June 1 marks the official start of the six month Atlantic Hurricane Season. Colorado State University’s Tropical Meteorology Project predicts an at or near average season which would bring 12 named storm systems with six of those becoming hurricanes, and three major hurricanes strengthening to a Category 3 or higher. Florida has been protected in recent years by an El Nino weather pattern, but that’s weakening rapidly now.
Experts also note, however, that the number of predicted storms has no correlation to the likelihood of a hurricane making landfall in the U.S. Hurricane Wilma was the last storm to hit the state in 2005, which means Florida is currently in the longest stretch of consecutive years without a Hurricane making landfall since records were first kept in 1851. Emergency management experts worry that residents may become complacent. Plus, according to the Southwest Florida Regional Planning Council, the region’s population changes by about 50% every eight years meaning a significant number of residents living here now, haven’t experienced hurricane activity. We’ll explore what forecasters are calling in for the coming season and how residents need to prepare and stay informed.
Jeff Huffman, Florida Public Radio Emergency Network Meteorologist
Wayne Sallade, Director for Charlotte County’s Office of Emergency Management