Florida can expect to see semi-regular tropical storm and hurricane announcements over the next five to six months now that the 2020 Hurricane Season officially started on June 1, 2020. Although storms in May and June aren’t especially common, they do occasionally form. With three named storms so far in 2020, the earliest part of this year’s hurricane season has been more active than normal.
A depression about 190 miles northeast of Cape Canaveral strengthened to a tropical storm.
Less than two weeks after Arthur another tropical depression reached tropical storm strength off the coast of South Carolina. Tropical Storm Bertha made landfall east of Charleston, SC.
Bertha, which developed rapidly in about two days, had winds topping out around 60 mph and only dropped about 5 inches of rain on parts of the Charleston metro area. Although news was understandably focused elsewhere during Tropical Storm Bertha, it should be viewed as a reminder to everyone in the Southeast that storm season is here, and storms can develop quickly and without much warning.
The National Hurricane Center is currently projecting the storm to head north from Central America through the center of the Gulf of Mexico and into Louisiana on Sunday morning. Parts of New Orleans are currently under a “tropical storm and storm surge watch,” which is announced 48 hours before a potential combination of high tide and storm surge.
Although Cristobal isn’t heading towards Florida, storm forecasting can change relatively rapidly in a matter of hours or days. Floridians certainly remember Hurricane Dorian, which initially looked as if it would whip through the Caribbean and land dead center on Florida’s east coast. The storm ended up turning north, just brushing Florida on its way up to the Carolinas.
Tropical Storm Cristobal likely won’t affect Florida, but it never hurts to be cognizant of the storm and prepared to take action if it becomes necessary.
Since 2012 – with the exception of 2014 – at least one tropical system has formed in May, leaving some in the meteorological community to wonder if it’s time to reevaluate the start of the official hurricane season in the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico.
One of the meteorologists responsible for Colorado State University’s official storm forecast doesn’t think that’s necessary, noting there’s never been a major hurricane landfall in the continental United States before June 1.
Needless to say, it’s vitally important to know where to go and what to do if you’re a Florida resident. The 2020 hurricane season has most definitely started, and the coronavirus and potential civil unrest near you could disrupt even the best laid hurricane shelter in place or evacuation plans.
If you haven’t downloaded information regarding Evacuation Zones and Evacuation Routes for your area you can find them here on Floridadisaster.org. Disaster planners also recommend contacting your local county emergency managers if you have questions about your particular situation.
It’s safe to say 2020 has been an unusual year beset by several serious tragedies and disasters months before any hurricanes have made landfall. The coronavirus pandemic led to a severe economic crash followed by civil unrest. All these events have the potential to effect Florida’s hurricane preparedness and the state’s ability to react when a hurricane does head towards our coast.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has been warning people on the southeast coast and gulf to start preparing early, but they’ve understandably had trouble getting their message heard during a time when people are distracted by so many other major events.
Getting caught off guard by a serious hurricane could result in even more death and pain for Floridians, which is something we would all like to avoid. Families should strongly consider taking some time out of their week to put together a preparedness kit and plan for various shelter in place or evacuation scenarios.
Hurricanes aren’t at the top of everyone’s list of worries right now, but they do deserve some attention. The 2020 Hurricane Season is officially underway. It’s still early but we’ve already seen three named storms. Predictions suggest we’ll see at least another 13 named tropical storms, eight hurricanes and four major hurricanes. Don’t let these storms sneak up on you or your family – get prepared as soon as possible.
If you haven’t already put together a kit we encourage you to review some of our preparedness resources. Hygiene will be especially important this year, so it will be a good idea to include hand sanitizer, Lysol wipes and masks if you have any. Maintaining social distancing isn’t always easy during evacuations or sheltering, but it should be considered when making your family’s hurricane plan.
All of us at Kanner & Pintaluga hope you stay safe during this 2020 hurricane season.