There’s not one, not two, not three, but four storms cranking through the Atlantic Ocean right now. It’s a reminder that we have reached the height of the 2017 hurricane season.
One of those storms, Hurricane Gert, continues to spin parallel to the United States’ East Coast way out to sea. It’s closer to the Carolinas than Florida at this point, so it doesn’t appear to be much of a threat here. But three other tropical disturbances are brewing, and by next week, could be either sorry, soggy excuses for storms — or hurricanes barreling full-throttle toward the United States mainland.
If all three continue to develop into tropical storms or hurricanes, they would be named Harvey, Irma and Jose. However, at this time, it doesn’t seem likely all three will continue to grow.
Then again… it only takes one to make life in these here parts very difficult. Historically, hurricane season peaks from mid-August to late-September, when ocean conditions are generally more favorable for more intense tropical cyclones. While we’ve had some serious threats — such as Hurricane Matthew last fall — it has been more than a decade since a major hurricane made landfall in South Florida.
It’s hard to believe that 13 years have passed since Florida got nailed by the Fab Four of hurricanes. It was between Aug. 9 and Sept. 27, 2004, that Charley, Frances, Ivan and Jeanne made their presence felt, cutting paths of destruction, one right after the other, across the State of Florida.
Just last month, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration nudged up its forecast for the current season after concluding that the tropical Atlantic and Caribbean were likely setting the stage for more hurricanes. They now expect the season to produce 14 to 19 named storms, five to nine hurricanes, and two to five major hurricanes with winds topping 110 mph.
So, with all this in front of us, it seems like a good time to remind everyone of what we said at the start of hurricane season, and every year prior to this: be prepared! Create an emergency communication plan with your family. Have emergency supplies in place at home, at work and in the car. Check your insurance coverage, since damages caused by flooding are not covered under normal homeowners’ insurance policies. Know your local community’s evacuation plan and evacuation routes, how to receive alerts and shelter information. And listen to local officials for storm information.
The time to prepare for a hurricane is before a storm is bearing down on the region, when you have the time and are not under pressure. If you wait, the odds are you will be under stress and could make poor decisions. Plus, that’s when much-needed non-perishable foods and supplies dwindle quickly and may not be available. Take the time now to create and write down a hurricane plan, know where you will stay to be safe for a possible storm, and get your supplies in place.
For more useful tips on getting prepared for a hurricane, visit www.nhc.noaa.gov/prepare.