May 26, 2011

Let’s get ready for June!

Ramona Madhosingh-Hector, Regional Specialized Agent, Urban Environmental Sustainability, Pinellas County Extension

Florida residents and visitors agree that the beauty of our state lies in our natural resources – warm climate, celebrated parks and preserves, and world famous beaches. Our access to the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean is an important recreational and economic asset but when hurricane season approaches, we are quickly reminded that natural disasters are possible.

June 1 marks the beginning of hurricane season and to help us get prepared, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) recognizes May 22 through May 28 as National Hurricane Preparedness Week. According to NOAA, you should be able to answer these three simple questions before a hurricane threatens:
• What are the hurricane hazards

• What does it mean to you?

• What actions should you take to be prepared?

With 825 miles of sandy beaches and over 8400 miles of tidal coastline, Florida’s coastline is second only to Alaska and is an extremely large area to manage in the event of a storm. Since the entire state of Florida is considered the coastal zone and each Florida resident lives within 70 miles of the coast, it is important that you
• know your evacuation zone,

• develop a family plan for evacuation,

• create a disaster supply kit, and

• stay informed.
The 2011 NOAA hurricane outlook predicts 12 to 18 storms in the Atlantic with three to six becoming major hurricanes so it is important to understand the Saffir Simpson scale. The scale provides a measure of storm intensity and the chart below describes some possible impacts.

Category Wind Speed Possible Impacts
CategoryWind SpeedPossible Impacts
Category One 74-95 mphGenerally, no substantial damage to building structures; potential damage primarily to unanchored mobile homes, shrubbery and trees.
Category Two 96-110 mphPossible damage to roofs, doors and windows; expect considerable damage to vegetation, mobile homes and piers; potential flooding in low-lying areas
Category Three 111-130 mphSome structural damage to small residences expected; destruction of mobile homes; coastal and inland flooding.
Category Four131-155 mphSome complete roof structure failure on small residences; beach erosion; major damage to lower floors in coastal homes.
Category Five Greater than 155 mphComplete roof failure on many residences and industrial buildings; some complete building failures; major damage to coastal homes; possible mandatory evacuations issued.

With over 18 million residents in 67 coastal counties, Florida is no stranger to hurricanes. The annual Governor’s Hurricane Conference was held May 15 – 20 in Fort Lauderdale under the theme “25 years: Learning from the Past, Preparing for the Future”. Preparation, teamwork and communication are the keys to increasing Florida’s response effectiveness when disaster strikes.

Do your part by becoming hurricane aware – be prepared for the 2011 hurricane season!


National Hurricane Center

Florida Division of Emergency Management

Florida Coastal Management Program

Pinellas County Emergency Management

University of Florida/EDIS/Hurricanes

University of Florida/EDIS/Disasters

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