Its that time again when we are looking towards the beginning of Hurricane Season 2017. Last year was predicted to be an above average season and it lived up to its name. This was especially true when Hurricane Matthew churned up the East Coast of Florida and came within 35 miles of the coast. A few miles to the west would of made all the difference in the world. The strongest winds stayed just a few miles offshore the coast. It was a wake up call for the residents of the East Coast of Florida that hopefully will not be soon forgotten.
Folks along the Treasure Coast were scampering for materials to cover their windows. Materials were hard to find and people were using anything from trellis material to pegboards to cover up their windows after the supply of plywood ran out. This is a reminder that you should and cannot wait until a storm approaches to get needed materials for the arrival of a hurricane. You need to prepare early. I have been preaching this for many years.
This year the prediction is for a below average hurricane season. this is due to such factors as the expected arrival of El Nino and the cooler then normal Atlantic waters. They are predicting 11 named storms including 2 major hurricanes. The probability of a direct hit on the East Coast and Florida is 24%. That is 6% below the normal average of 30%.
Remember that even though there is a prediction of a quiet season, it only takes one storm to make it a bad season. Please do not get complacent and be sure to be ready on June 1st and do not wait till a storm is headed your way. Matthew was far from a false alarm, we just got really lucky.
In 2017, the cone of error will be smaller then in past years because of improvements in forecasting. So when you see that cone this year, it will look a bit skinnier then in the past. In addition, the NHC will now show the swath of a system instead of just representing the storm with just a dot. This is something we have been doing for years but this year the NHC will follow suit with their graphics as well.
this year, the NHC will add a very important map to the suite of graphics to predict storm surge. Storm surge is the biggest killer in a land falling hurricane. more people die from drowning then any other aspect of a hurricane. Remember the saying: “Hide from the wind but run from the water”. Most people that hunker down in their homes are safe after a storm, even if the structure is damaged. Those that do not evacuate from coastal areas when told usually either die or get trapped to the point where nobody can reach them. We always recommend that folks who refuse to evacuate from a coastal mandatory evacuation zone write their SS number on their arm so they can be identified after the storm and the storm surge subsides.
In short, remember that the potential for a quiet season is indeed great news but remember to prepare anyway just in case. Folks that are prepared will ride out the storm with flying colors.