Ready or Not, Hurricane Season


While meteorologists debated the projected path and landfall this week, Floridians prepared for Dorian. Water, batteries, plywood, tarps, jerky, M & Ms. As the Sand Paper goes to the printing presses this week, the strength and path remain a matter of debate. If we’re lucky, this will be just a practice run for those of us in SWFL and while we see some wind and rain, the dangerous levels of those elements will stay far to our north.

So, throw that hurricane party, enjoy the reprieve, because we know it’s just this storm that passed us by. The next one may not.

But has this storm passed us by?

Most of us are now aware that heavy rainfall in the central part of the state can affect our local water quality, via Lake Okeechobee water releases. We know that the results of a heavy rainfall event that “misses” us, can end up literally in our backyard in the next few weeks. Any heavy rainfall washes fertilizers off the land and into the water. Once they’re in the water, they can feed harmful algae blooms.

Lake O is currently being managed to minimize water releases when there are algae blooms on the lake, but a hurricane will fill the lake up and blooms or not, water will be released our way. Which is why we need to keep pressure on our elected officials to complete all the water quality projects in the pipeline as soon as possible. Our economy is dependent on reliably clean water.

Hurricane season runs from June 1 to November 30 each year with a major hurricane possible anytime within that period. Experienced Floridians will tell you that the “real” season, the period when we see the most hurricanes, is between August 15 and October 15 and statistics claim September 10 as the peak of the season. Oddly appropriate as Hurricane Irma came to call on September 10, 2017.

Dorian won’t be the last storm we track through the Caribbean this year. Hopefully, our experience with Dorian will inspire us all to take hurricane preparation seriously. There’s no shortage of advice on how to prepare your family, your home or business for a storm. We’ve been publishing articles on storm prep for weeks now with plenty of references. There’s another one in today’s paper.

The cool kids, and there are always cool kids, might not find hurricane preparation a worthy use of their time. You’ll hear about hurricane parties and how some never do anything to prepare and they’ve always been just fine. Those are the people who public safety agencies worry about the most. Those are the ones that put public safety personnel in danger when it all goes south and they need rescuing. So, be kind to your local sheriff and fire department. Each one of them have family members who worry about their safety. They’ll put their lives on the line to save you, but they shouldn’t have to.

Prepare a storm kit, evacuate if told to and be ready to take care of yourself before, during and after a storm.

Fingers crossed that Dorian bypasses SWFL.


Missy Layfield