OUR POSITION: Here we go again.
OK, it’s a go.
This week, the Atlantic hurricane season got a running start as Tropical Storm Barry moved north into the Gulf of Mexico.
This is the “B” storm, the second named storm of the year. The “official start” of the season is June 1, but “official” dates only bracket the season, historically. We’re getting into it now, with the height of activity coming in August, September and October.
Barry is hitting the coast of Louisiana this weekend. The impact here is expected to be minimal. So this is a relatively dry run. A warning shot. We’re on notice. And the message, repeated again here, is to fight the natural tendency toward complacency. If you haven’t already done so, it might be wise to start your preparations this weekend.
Last week, the Colorado State University Tropical Meteorology Project issued its latest predictions: six major hurricanes of category 3 or higher this year. Colorado State — a well-respected program — projected half an alphabet of named storms this season: 13. The university’s estimate was below the projection earlier this year from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (nine hurricanes and 15 named storms).
These are data-based estimates, but, or course, are still only estimates. As emergency management officials continually remind us: You never know. Not where, not when, not how hard. Most important, don’t bet the house against it.
Old story, yes. Nearly 15 years since Hurricane Charley hit Punta Gorda, Port Charlotte and Arcadia, it seems hard to believe most people in our readership area would be unaware of the destructive power of a large hurricane.
But, we wonder:
Have you stocked up on water? Have you put aside canned food and staples? Peanut butter, canned fruits and vegetables, power bars? Pet food?
Do you have a first aid kit? Batteries, flashlights, duct tape, lanterns, cell phone chargers?
How about your insurance? Up to date? And wind insurance? Here’s a suggestion: This weekend, walk around the house snapping photos or shooting video on your phone. You never know; it could help with insurance later on.
Emergency management people always stress the importance of family evacuation plans. First, know your home’s flood evacuation zone. You can find it on the county website. Flooding and storm surge are often the greatest threats in a storm, so don’t take this threat lightly.
Also, talk with family and friends about possible evacuation if a storm is headed our way. Think about the circumstances that might force you to evacuate. Think about where you’d go. Recognize, also, the earlier the better.
And, then, how about your pets? Two years ago, area hurricane shelters were slammed with people bringing their pets with them. Accommodations now have been made for pets at most all shelters, but, please, you’ll need to provide a crate. Also remember the medicine — not only yours but the dog’s too.
Remember, also, to keep your important documents in an air-tight container that you can bring along if you evacuate.
These are the basics. Most likely, you’ve heard them before. Maybe so many times you block it all out early in the season.
You won’t, though, once we’re inside the Cone of Uncertainty (or whatever they call it now).