Living in an oceanfront paradise like Florida has amazing benefits, but you also need to be prepared for occasional extreme weather. May 7–13 is Hurricane Preparedness Week, so be sure to take some time to review important information you should know about hurricanes and emergency readiness.
What's the Difference Between a Thunderstorm and Hurricane?
Simply put, a hurricane is a thunderstorm on steroids. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), a thunderstorm that forms over tropical or subtropical waters becomes a hurricane once it reaches maximum sustained wind speeds of 74 MPH.
Hurricane season runs from June 1 through November 30, but storms have occurred outside this window. The U.S. coastline is hit by an average of three hurricanes over a two-year period, with at least one classified as a major hurricane reaching wind speeds of 111 MPH or more.
Dangers of Hurricanes
Strong winds can destroy buildings, flinging debris with such force that they become deadly weapons. Tornadoes may also occur in the rainbands outside the eye of the storm.
Living in a coastal city such as Bradenton or Sarasota, it's important to be aware of the possibility of storm surge—the rising water and violent waves produced by hurricane winds.
Torrential rains can cause flooding that lasts for days, even hundreds of miles inland.
Create an emergency plan for all members of your household, including phone numbers for each. Put the plan in writing and keep a copy in an easily accessible location.
FEMA has a handy checklist of items to assemble for an emergency supply kit. Don't forget to plan for Fido and Fluffy!
Renters insurance generally covers only contingencies that are specifically named in the policy. Review the policy with your insurance agent to make sure you have hurricane coverage.
Heed the Warnings
Understand the difference between the various updates issued by the National Hurricane Center in Miami.
Tropical Weather Outlook is an overview of areas of disturbance and potential developments over the next five days.
Tropical Cyclone Public Advisory details the various watches and warnings in effect on an active tropical cyclone.
Hurricane or Tropical Storm Watch indicates that conditions are right for a storm. Watches are issued 48 hours ahead of a storm's expected arrival to allow time for residents in the affected areas to prepare.
Hurricane or Tropical Storm Warning means a storm is anticipated within the next 36 hours. If you haven't already, this is the time to take action.
Members of a community often support each other during times of emergency. Why not include your neighbors in your planning so you can watch out for one another?
Do you have any safety tips to add? Let us know in the comments section below!