By Tamas Mondovics
“Partners In Preparedness” has been chosen as the theme of Hillsborough County’s 2017 Hurricane Expo, a free event organized by disaster response experts from Hillsborough County, the City of Tampa, the City of Temple Terrace, the American Red Cross, and the National Weather Service, (NWS).
In harmony with the Atlantic Hurricane season (June 1 – November 30) the Expo is scheduled for Saturday, June 3, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at 250 WestShore Plaza Mall in Tampa.
“This is a great event to help residents be ready, to understand their resources and meet with disaster response experts face to face,” said Hillsborough County Emergency Management Director Preston Cook.
Cook emphasized that the NWS is predicting 11 named storms for the 2017 hurricane season.
This year’s expo is designed to feature activities for adults and children, including education displays, touch-a-truck station, disaster preparedness booths, and a severe weather panel with local meteorology specialists to identify their evacuation zone, pick up preparedness materials, and sign up for HCFL Alert. The first 500 to visit all the stations and fill out a passport will receive a NOAA weather radio and a disaster starter kit.
To assist residents, County officials promoted this year’s “Have A Plan, Know Your Plan” reminder urging residents to take the necessary steps before a hurricane hits.
“The time to prepare for hurricane season is before the tropical weather moves toward us across the Atlantic Ocean,” Cook said, adding, “It only takes one to cause a disaster.”
The 2016 season actually began months ahead of the norm as Alex became the second hurricane on record to form in the Atlantic Basin during the month of January.
As reported by the NWS, according to NOAA’s historical hurricane tracker database, the last hurricane that formed in the Atlantic during January was in 1938.
Alex is also the first hurricane to occur in the Atlantic in January since Alice in 1955.
The 2016 Atlantic hurricane season was also the first above average Atlantic hurricane season since 2012, producing a total of 15 named storms, seven hurricanes, and three major hurricanes. It was also the costliest season since 2012, and was reportedly the deadliest since at least 2008.
Twelve of the 15 named storms in the Atlantic basin in 2016 affected land directly in some way and of the 12, five hit the United States.
Two storms that came too close for comfort included Hurricane Matthew, which first struck Haiti as a Category 4 storm on October 4.
Matthew strengthened to a rare Category 5 late on September 30, becoming the first Category 5 Atlantic Basin hurricane since Felix in early September 2007. Scraping Florida’s eastern coastline, Matthew’s center came ashore near McClellanville, South Carolina, as a minimal hurricane.
The second major storm to threaten the state was Hurricane Hermine in early September, which also broke Florida’s decade long streak with no hurricane landfalls. After it traveled more than 4,000 miles, Hermine pushed inland near St. Marks, Florida, as a Category 1 storm.
Evacuation zones, hurricane storm surge probabilities, local flood zones are among the main “need to know” items on the list.
Some hurricane preparedness tips include:
-Plan to pay close attention if authorities begin announcing zone evacuations. Know where you will go and how you will get there.
– Compile contact information for family members, law enforcement, local hospitals and utilities, and your property insurance agent.
– Share your preparation efforts with family members, make a plan, and be sure everyone knows how it will play out if severe weather looms.
– After a storm passes, listen to local officials for instructions. When they deem it’s safe to return home, watch out for debris, downed power lines, and standing water.
-Prepare for the unexpected.
For more information, visit HurricaneExpo.com.