Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

10 Things We Have Learned | Floridians Have Endured Centuries of Hurricanes and Tropical Storms

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

10 Things We Have Learned | Floridians Have Endured Centuries of Hurricanes and Tropical Storms

Article excerpt

2016 HURRICANE GUIDE

Floridians have learned a lot about hurricanes over the past 20 years, thanks to hurricanes Andrew, Charley, Frances, Jeanne, Ivan, Wilma and Tropical Storms Andrea, Fay and Debby.

1 Prepare as if the hurricane is coming your way. Forecasting is still part science and part guesswork.

Southwest Florida residents who followed the National Hurricane Center's track for Hurricane Charley, and expected the storm to slam Tampa Bay, may have overlooked the forecast center's margin of error.

Don't follow the skinny black line: focus on the wider band of a storm's possible direction so that you are ready if it veers off the center line.

2 Size and strength matter. Everyone expected extensive property damage when Hurricane Charley's 145-mph winds struck Charlotte Harbor in 2004, but inland residents may not have expected hurricane- force winds to sweep across the state, causing several deaths and widespread damage from Arcadia to Daytona Beach. Because it was so huge, Hurricane Wilma caused major damage on the state's east coast even though it made landfall on the west coast below Naples. Tropical storms Fay and Debby showed the damage that extensive rainfall can cause far inland.

3 If ordered to evacuate, do so. Some people who lived in mobile homes rode out Hurricanes Charley and Frances, even though they were told to evacuate, because they had nowhere to take their pets or mistakenly felt more secure at home than in an unfamiliar public shelter.

Plan ahead to stay with relatives or friends outside of the danger zone or hit the road early and make arrangements to check into a pet-friendly motel.

4 Plan to lose electricity. It doesn't take a major hurricane to snap tree branches that can bring down power lines. In 2001, Tropical Storm Gabrielle caused power outages affecting hundreds of thousands of people in Central and Southwest Florida. Stockpile flashlights and batteries ahead of time and make sure you have enough food and water.

5 Avoid the last-minute scramble. Stock up on supplies you will need to protect your property and to ride out the storm at home, if you can. …

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