Ongoing La Niña and above-average Atlantic temperatures set the stage for busy season ahead
Florida — the Sunshine State — where its residents enjoy sunshine and warm weather for most of the year. Estimated to receive more than 200 days of sunshine each year, it’s become a hot destination (second only to Texas), for people who want to escape the financial rigors and snow and ice of northern states.
Florida saw 221,000 more residents arrive from other states than leave from July 2020 to July of last year, according to population estimates from the Census Bureau. That’s Florida’s largest gain in residents from within the U.S. since 2005.
If you are one of the thousands of people who recently moved to Florida, it’s important to be prepared for your first hurricane season. We are only a few days into the six-month season and Florida has already had its first tropical disturbance.
June 1 marked the official start of the 2022 hurricane season, which runs through November 30 and experts are predicting an “above-normal” season, with 14 to 21 named storms expected. Of those named storms, six to ten are expected to be hurricanes and three to six could be major hurricanes, according to the Hurricane Center at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
These numbers include tropical storms, which contain wind speeds of 39 mph or higher. Storms become hurricanes when winds reach 74 mph. An average season typically spawns seven hurricanes and peaks in August and September.
If predictions hold true, it will be a record seventh consecutive year of above-normal activity so The Hernando Sun is offering some simple do’s and don’ts of hurricane preparedness for our new residents who may have never experienced a hurricane or storm surge.
Make a Plan
Hernando County’s Emergency Management encourages everyone to make their own personal disaster plan. Taking a few simple steps today could save lives and prevent suffering later. Start your preparations now. It is important to know your zone, know your home, know your nearest shelter and your evacuation route. Plan to be self-sufficient for at least 7 days: food, water, and medications are especially important. Visit https://www.tbrpc.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/05/Hernando-County-Evacuation-Map-2022.pdf that includes sheltering in-place and evacuation. If you have to evacuate, check your nearest evacuation route or what local shelter spaces are available for this year. Coronavirus precautions may be in place. Visit: floridadisaster.org/planprepare/know-your-zone-know-your-home/
Prepare your Emergency Kit
Be sure to have at least three days supply of food and water on hand — plan for one gallon of water per person per day and food that won’t spoil. Keep a manual can opener and emergency tools handy including a fire extinguisher, battery-powered radio, flashlight and plenty of batteries.
• Banks and ATMs may not be open or available for extended periods, so keep a supply of cash available.
• House keys
• Water — at least one gallon per person per day for three to seven days, plus water for pets.
• Food — at least enough for three to seven days
• Radio — battery powered and NOAA weather radio with extra batteries.
• First Aid Kit — plus any prescription drugs.
• Special items — for babies and the elderly.
• Toiletries — hygiene items, moisture wipes, cloth face masks and sanitizer.
• If you have a vehicle, keep a full tank of gas if an evacuation seems likely. Keep a half tank of gas in it at all times in case of an unexpected need to evacuate. Gas stations may be closed during emergencies and unable to pump gas during power outages. Plan to take one car per family to reduce congestion and delay.
Tropical systems impacting the Sunshine State are part of life here and it’s vital to be prepared well before a hurricane is heading toward us. Get your hurricane and flood coverage in place. Take a look at the FEMA flood and risk maps to determine if your home needs flood insurance. Insurance also needs to be in place before a storm approaches. Most policies have a 30-day waiting period before coverage kicks in.
Shelters are typically schools or community centers that provide a large hardened area inside a sturdy building. Shelters may be crowded, noisy and uncomfortable, with very little privacy. Shelter volunteers do their best to make you safe and secure. Staying with friends or family may be a more comfortable alternative. Make sure you know the nearest shelter to your location and remember that not every shelter takes pets. Do your homework in advance.
There is roughly 20 square feet of personal space per person. That is about 3.5 feet wide and 6 feet long
You will be asked to show identification when you arrive
Eat before you arrive. Food may or may not be immediately available. Doors will close when winds reach sustained speeds of 40 mph. Shelters may lose electricity. Bring a hand fan or battery operated fan, and a flashlight with batteries. If you are sheltering with your pet, you must go to a pet-friendly designated shelter. Remember to bring a crate, vaccination records, collar with name and contact number, food and water
It’s time to check if those beautiful older trees that tower above many neighborhoods need to be trimmed. Falling branches can be a cause for downed power lines or home damage during a storm.
Whether it’s your first time or you’ve weathered the worst of them, the time to prepare for a hurricane is now, when you have the time and are not under pressure from an approaching storm. No two seasons are alike, and the same goes for every tropical storm or hurricane. Do not make plans based on years past or what someone once told you about “riding out a Category 4 storm.”
It’s never too early to prepare for the devastating impacts of hurricanes. It’s crucial to remember that it only takes one storm to damage your home, neighborhood and community.
Stay up to date on the latest forecasts, models and potential impacts.
The official Hernando County Disaster Planning Guide and be found at https://www.hernandocounty.us
The 2022 Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 to November 30 and covers the Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea.
Hurricanes are rated according to intensity on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale Categories 1 to 5. A Category 1 hurricane is defined as a tropical cyclone with maximum sustained winds of 74 mph. A Category 3 or higher is considered a major hurricane.
Ready.gov and the National Hurricane Center’s website at hurricanes.gov will help you be prepared and safe throughout the season to stay current on watches and warnings.