Florida Gov.: Odds Against Another Quiet Hurricane Season
Florida Gov. Rick Scott and other officials at the Governor’s Hurricane Conference in Fort Lauderdale on Wednesday noted that Florida, the most hurricane-battered state in the nation, is bound to run out of luck it has had for quiet hurricane seasons.
By Ken Kaye, Sun Sentinel
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Don’t let six hurricane-free years in Florida fool you into thinking the upcoming season will be a cakewalk.
That was the message of Florida Gov. Rick Scott and other officials at the Governor’s Hurricane Conference in Fort Lauderdale on Wednesday. They note that Florida, the most hurricane-battered state in the nation, is bound to run out of luck.
“I hope we don’t have a hurricane,” Scott told about 1,300 conference participants at the Broward Convention Center. “But the odds are not in our favor.”
Experts predict the upcoming storm season, which officially starts on June 1, will see an average or below average number of tropical systems. They say the Atlantic is cooler than it has been in several years and El Nino, the atmospheric force that suppresses storm formation, may emerge.
Bryan Koon, the state’s emergency management director, said he doesn’t put much stock in seasonal forecasts.
“I don’t really care how many hurricanes are forecast for this year,” he said. “I worry about a hurricane that can disrupt the normalcy we enjoy and turn everything upside down.”
This year is the 20th anniversary of Hurricane Andrew, the Category 5 system that slammed Miami-Dade County in 1992. Officials held that up as an example of why everyone needs to be ready — no matter how many storms are forecast. Andrew hit during an otherwise quiet year with only six named storms.
Scott said residents should develop a hurricane plan and know exactly where every member of the family will be if a hurricane threatens. He recommended people visit the Florida Division of Emergency Management website, florida.org, for instructions on how to develop plans.
Koon warned against putting tape over windows — rather than shutters or plywood — in hopes it will minimize damage.
“Studies have shown that’s not the case,” he said.
The Governor’s Hurricane Conference is intended to help forecasters, emergency managers, rescue personnel and public officials better prepare for and respond to storms and hurricanes.
Bill Read, the outgoing director of the National Hurricane Center, who plans to retire on June 1, said Hurricane Irene last August was an example of why residents should play close attention to forecasts — and realize they can be loaded with uncertainty.
He said the storm caused enormous flooding and affected about 50 million people, yet many in the Northeast didn’t take it seriously enough because it was forecast to be a tropical storm by the time it reached that region.
“There’s no such thing as just a tropical storm,” he said, noting that inland flooding alone killed 20 people.
Phil Klotzbach and William Gray of Colorado State University predict 10 named storms this season, including four hurricanes, with two of those major. The average season sees 12 named storms, including six hurricanes, three major.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will release its seasonal outlook on May 24.
Scott said even if the upcoming season turns out to be relatively tame, even one hurricane can be “devastating.”
©2012 the Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)
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