Slightly above-average season predicted
As I write these words, I can already imagine your reaction. If you don’t say it out loud, your brain is thinking, “Must we talk about hurricanes again? Didn’t we have two back-to-back abundant years in Florida with Hurricanes Hermine and Matthew (2016) and Irma in 2018?” Sadly, the answer is yes. Don’t think that your intense preparation, response and recovery efforts last year let you mark it off the list for 2018.
Hurricane season begins June 1 and runs through November 30 each year. Most Floridians are aware of these bookend dates, but this important calendar note may not be known to newer residents (who may also be your employees). While June 1 – November 30 is the official season, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) describes a “season within the season” from mid-August through mid-October. During this period, storm activity increases, accounting for 78% of the tropical storm days, 87% of category 1 and 2 days, and and…wait for it …96% of the major hurricane days (category 4 & 5 on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale). Read more about this phenomenon on NOAA’s website.
The 2018 prediction released by the Colorado State University (CSU) calls for a “slightly above-average” hurricane season. The CSU tropical meteorology team predicts 14 named storms during the Atlantic Hurricane Season, with seven to become named hurricanes and three to reach major hurricane strength (sustained winds of 111 miles per hour or greater).
As we move into the 2018 hurricane season, FHCA wants to encourage you to be deliberate and intentional in your preparedness activities. Begin by making sure staff are prepared, personally, for a hurricane. Helpful resources are available from the Florida Division of Emergency Management and the American Red Cross. An important next step is to having social media connections in place with your local office of emergency management (OEM). Many OEMs used Twitter extensively during Hurricane Irma, providing frequent just-in-time updates for local citizens. Along with OEMs, Twitter was used by the National Hurricane Center and other key information sources.
You can also visit www.LTCprepare.org and see Twitter feeds from the National Hurricane Center, the State Emergency Response Team (SERT), and the Florida Department of Health. Keep in mind these three are state-level resources rather than local. All emergencies are local, so your best information source should always be your county’s office of emergency management. The very best information source must always start with your local emergency officials.
Another strategy we strongly encourage is involvement with your region’s Healthcare (preparedness) Coalition, or HCC. Visit the Program section on the Florida Department of Health website to access their emergency preparedness resources, which includes a map of the locations and contacts for these valuable organizations. HCCs focus on local/regional emergency preparedness and provide training, exercises, information and the opportunity to develop relationships with preparedness partners whom you may need during a disaster situation.
Throughout the season, FHCA will include emergency preparedness tips in the weekly Focus on Florida e-newsletter to members, and more articles on emergency preparedness will be posted here.