SEBRING — Mother Nature has decided to have mercy on Florida and will instead set her sights further north up the Eastern Seaboard. The east coast of Florida will feel the effects of Hurricane Florence however and there are other storms in her wake.
Meteorologist Dan Noah of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration — yes, that’s Noah from NOAA — said Sept. 10 was the official peak of the season and October, which is normally very active, is looming.
“We are still very high in the season,” Noah said. ”We can’t let our guards down through October and then we just have to keep an eye on things through November.”
Currently, there are five storms and disturbances in the tropics. Hurricane Helene is forecast to turn north and then south in the ocean and not make landfall. Tropical Storm Isaac, which should be in the Caribbean Sea by the weekend, poses no threat to the United States.
Disturbance 1 has a 60 percent chance of developing into a tropical storm. It is in the Gulf of Mexico and is predicted to go into Texas or New Orleans. Disturbance 2 is in the Atlantic Ocean and is 40 percent likely to turn into a tropical storm but it is not forecast to affect the United States.
Of course, there is Hurricane Florence. At this time, the storm is scheduled to make landfall today in the Carolinas. Meteorologists are calling for up to 40 inches of rains in some locations, storm surge, beach erosion and flooding.
“There’s a bunch of storms out there,” Noah said. “None of them are going to impact Central Florida. You guys had your fair share last year. We can still get hurricanes in any month of the year.
“Highlands, in the middle of the state, can get hit from both sides,” he said.
Red tide has forced most central Florida citizens to the waves on the east coast beaches; those will be negatively impacted by Hurricane Florence’s feeder bands and their pull on the ocean.
Noah urged everyone to avoid swimming in the ocean until Florence is no longer a storm.
“There will be above normal tides, high surf and tons of riptides,” Noah said. “It’s going to be pretty dangerous to go swimming on the east coast. Stay at the fresh water lakes and avoid the ocean.”
He did advise being mindful of the gators though.
Riptides occur when two currents meet near inlets, piers and where water is deep. The currents often pull swimmers out into deep water. Swimming against the tide is often futile and tires swimmers out quickly. NOAA’s website shows that 100 people drown in riptides annually. Swimmers are always advised to swim parallel with the shore and back to land at an angle.
Interactive maps and up-to-date information can be found at nhc.noaa.gov.