Are You Ready? The 2014 Hurricane Season Starts on Sunday, June 1st

Are You Ready? The 2014 Hurricane Season Starts on Sunday, June 1st

June 1st marks the first day of the 2014 Hurricane Season. Each year, the Season begins on June 1st and ends on November 30th. The Office of Emergency Management advises everyone to take the steps necessary to ensure hurricane preparedness at work and at home. Review your overall preparedness carefully with the understanding that Tampa is very susceptible to severe weather. Be prepared to survive the storm!

Hurricane

Did you know that Tampa Bay is ranked #1 by The Weather Channel as the most vulnerable/overdue hurricane region in the United States? Did you know the Third National Climate Assessment federal report found that Tampa Bay is one of three areas in Florida particularly vulnerable to rising sea levels?  Many cities and towns can go years without being impacted by a hurricane or tropical storm. This leads to a feeling of complacency that can be dangerous, or even deadly, when a hurricane hits.

Tampa is vulnerable to a variety of potentially deadly, uncontrollable weather events that range from tornadoes to storm surge to wind events.  Tampa borders the coast and residents need to be aware of the heightened possibility that a hurricane may hit our community in any given year. The last major hurricane to hit Tampa was in 1921 when the Tampa Bay Hurricane hit, causing millions in damage. Since then, Tampa Bay area's population has increased 1300 percent. These studies are the loudest and clearest alarm bells to date. Tampa Bay is exceptionally vulnerable to hurricanes. 

Citywide Preparedness
Mayor Buckhorn has made severe weather readiness a top priority for the entire community. The Office of Emergency Management works year round to coordinate preparedness activities and establish partnerships with key community stakeholders and non-governmental organizations in an effort to better enhance Tampa's level of preparedness. 

This year, May 25-31st has been designated as National Hurricane Preparedness Week, and will culminate with the 2014 Tampa Bay Hurricane Expo at MOSI on Saturday, May 31st! Come out to this free, family-friendly event to get expert advice on hurricane preparedness from the Natioanal Weather Service, local television meterologists and a wide variety of vendors with giveaways.  Doors open at 9:00am and close at 2:00pm.

Seasonal Forecast
For the six-month hurricane season, which begins June 1, NOAA predicts a 70 percent likelihood of 8 to 13 named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher), of which 3 to 6 could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher), including 1 to 2 major hurricanes (Category 3, 4 or 5; winds of 111 mph or higher).

These numbers are near or below the seasonal averages of 12 named storms, six hurricanes and three major hurricanes, based on the average from 1981 to 2010. However, this does not mean a less destructive hurricane season. There is no strong correlation between the number of storms or hurricanes and U.S. landfalls in any given season. A season can deliver many storms, but have little impact, or deliver few storms and have one or more hitting the U.S. coast with major impact.

NOAA is rolling out new tools at the National Hurricane Center this year. An experimental mapping tool will be used to show communities their storm surge flood threat. The map will be issued for coastal areas when a hurricane or tropical storm watch is first issued, or approximately 48 hours before the anticipated onset of tropical storm force winds. The map will show land areas where storm surge could occur and how high above ground the water could reach in those areas.

“Thanks to the environmental intelligence from NOAA’s network of earth observations, our scientists and meteorologists can provide life-saving products like our new storm surge threat map and our hurricane forecasts,” said Kathryn Sullivan, Ph.D., NOAA administrator. “And even though we expect El Niño to suppress the number of storms this season, it’s important to remember it takes only one land falling storm to cause a disaster.” Therefore, it's important to be prepared for hurricanes and tropical storms every year, regardless of seasonal forecasts.

Make sure that you and your co-workers are enrolled in the Know Your Role program and subscribed to receive alerts from Alert Tampa. Each department is accountable for severe weather preparedness. The level of individual department readiness will ensure the collective readiness of the City.

Get ready, Tampa! Be prepared to survive the storm.  Be prepared at home and at work.  Stay connected with Alert Tampa.

Sales Tax Holiday
Floridians can take advantage of a hurricane preparedness sales tax holiday beginning Saturday, May 31. During the holiday, qualifying items related to hurricane preparedness are exempt from sales tax. The holiday begins at 12:01 a.m. on Saturday, May 31st and ends at 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, June 8. Some of the qualifying items are: battery-powered flashlights and lanterns $20 or less, gas or diesel fuel containers, $25 or less, batteries under $30.

Visit the Office of Emergency Management online. Contact the Emergency Coordinator with questions about disaster preparedness at home or work.

Chauncia Willis, Emergency Coordinator
Office of Emergency Management