2015 Hurricane Season Is Upon Us

Meteorologist Robert Molleda from the National Weather Service visited Palmetto Bay’s Village Hall on June 15 and spoke about the current hurricane season and how we should deal with it.

He started by showing a slide showing the paths of all the hurricanes that hit Florida since 1865. It looked similar to this photo, but busier. Between 1920-1965 fifteen major hurricanes struck South Florida and since 1966 only four. Since 2005 we’ve been very quiet. But, Molleda added, while we’ve been lucky, this does not mean we should become lax.

This year may be another lucky year because of El Nino. With El Nino, there are high-level winds that tend to sheer off hurricane formation. Because of this and other factors, it is predicted we’ll have a below normal hurricane season.

However, preparation is still important because statistics don't always capture weather reality. Although only 8% of recent significant weather events were hurricanes, 81% of the damage/cost came from hurricanes.

Molleda pointed out that people often forget about flooding, tornado activity and storm surge when thinking about hurricanes. In 1926, an 8-foot storm surge hit Miami Beach and deposited two feet of sand on Collins Avenue. And, during Andrew, the Deering Estate and the old Burger King headquarters had nearly 17-feet of storm surge, raising a boat over a lock and depositing it.

My observation about preparation is that technology has made it far easier. Unlike when Andrew hit us, we now have cell phones, Internet and a variety of additional personal ways to communicate. Also, most gas stations and grocery stores are required to have generators to avoid the possibilities of those two staples from becoming issues after the storm passes. However, we still must do our part if a hurricane warning is issued for our area.

These are the major check-boxes to address:

  1. Know your evacuation zone and plan
  2. Install protection to your home
  3. Trim trees and remove all debris from yard
  4. Backup computer data and send offsite, either via cloud service or physical storage.
  5. Have food, water and medicine for 3-5 days. Consider refrigeration needs.
  6. Make sure to have batteries and charge everything you can

I’ll add a tip that I came up with. Park high and apart. What I mean by this is if a hurricane is coming and your family has more than one car, try to park one at home and one within walking distance. Also, both should be at the highest elevation possible. With hurricanes come rains. The higher you are, the less likely your car will flood.

I'd definitely check out the storm surge simulator that will tell you what to expect at your specific address. You can also check out my hurricane preparedness blog post.