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Florida’s

2011 Severe Weather


Awareness Guide
Are
You
Ready?

ERE WEATHER
SEV

AWA
RENESS WEEK

FLORIDA DIVISION OF EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT


A Message From Governor Rick Scott
Florida Division of Emergency Management
Our state's pristine beaches, diverse ecology, 2555 Shumard Oak Boulevard
and temperate climate make Florida one of Tallahassee, Florida 32399-2100
the best places in the United States to live and www.FloridaDisaster.org
visit. However, more than 18 million residents
of Florida and the tens of millions of annual
visitors to the Sunshine State must remember Rick Scott
that Florida is the hurricane capital of America Governor
and has one of the highest numbers of severe
weather incidents in the nation. To prepare for Bryan W. Koon
Florida's natural hazards, I strongly urge you Director
Florida Division of Emergency Management
and your family to develop a disaster-survival plan and an emergency
supply kit. This Severe Weather Awareness Guide will give you and
your family all of the information necessary to stay safe during an Contributing Authors
emergency. I encourage you to take a moment and read this Guide,
and take all appropriate steps to prepare for any potential weather- Angela Enyedi
related emergencies. By reviewing the information and taking the National Weather Service, Jacksonville
emergency steps outlined in this Guide, you and your family will be Jeffry Evans
better able to protect yourselves from all types of severe weather. National Weather Service, Tallahassee
Tyler Fleming
National Weather Service, Tampa Bay
Message From The Director of the Florida Kelly Godsey
Division of Emergency Management National Weather Service, Tallahassee
Chip Kasper
The Division of Emergency Management's National Weather Service, Key West
long history of coordinating disaster response
Sean Luchs
teaches us the value of helping Florida's
Florida Division of Forestry
residents and visitors prepare for potential
emergencies before they strike. Robert Molleda
National Weather Service, Miami
In addition to the state's annual hurricane Arlena Moses
threats, we know emergencies can happen National Weather Service, Melbourne
almost anywhere, anytime in Florida including Eric Oglesby
tornadoes, lightning, fires, floods and extreme temperatures. National Weather Service, Tampa Bay

That is why I am pleased to present the 2011 Severe Weather Al Sandrik


Awareness Guide. From building and emergency supply kit to National Weather Service, Jacksonville
developing a family disaster survival plan, you will find information Scott Spratt
in this guidebook that you and your family can use to stay safe National Weather Service, Melbourne
during a severe weather event.
Alfredo Diaz
Design and Layout
Florida Division of Emergency Management

Special thanks to:


Amy Godsey, Michelle Palmer,
Table of Contents Lauren McKeague and Ian Dankelman
Florida Division of Emergency Management

Severe Weather Tornadoes...................................14 This publication is a project of the Florida


  Awareness Week .........................  3 Thunderstorms...............................17 Division of Emergency Management in
Prepare for All Weather....................  4 Hurricanes.....................................20 cooperation with The National Weather
Service Florida Offices.
NOAA Alert Radio.............................  6 Flooding........................................25
Lightning...........................................  7 Kids Get a Plan!................................28 A downloadable guide is available at
Marine Hazards.................................10 Extreme Temperatures ...................30 www.FloridaDisaster.org
Rip Currents.....................................12 Wildfires ...........................................32
Severe Weather Awareness Week in Florida
January 31 – February 4, 2011
Monday, January 31 through Friday, February 4, 2011 is that frequently impact the state and how to prepare for
Severe Weather Awareness Week in Florida by Gover- these natural events by reviewing the proper safety pre-
nor Rick Scott. During this special week, Floridians are cautions necessary for protecting their lives during severe
encouraged to learn about the various weather hazards weather.

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday

Lightning Marine Hazards Tornadoes and Hurricanes and Temperature


and Rip Currents Thunderstorms Flooding Extremes and
Wildfires

Practice makes perfect: Statewide Tornado Drill Timeline


Statewide tornado drill Feb. 2 School districts, private schools, preschools and daycare
centers are urged to participate in the drill. The tornado
warning will be broadcasted on NOAA Alert Radio and will be
If a tornado were to strike tomorrow, would you be prepared? encoded as a weekly test for this drill.
Would you know what actions to take? In Florida, tornadoes strike
all too often. Planning and practice are keys to tornado safety. Weeks before the drill
Whether at home, school or work, everyone should have a plan in Prepare
place for severe weather. The tornado drill gives Floridians a chance Inform staff, students, parents.
to test their plans and determine whether or not they are prepared.  Review and refine a tornado plan.
This is especially true in schools.
February 2: The day of the drill
A very important part of Florida Severe Weather Awareness After 8:00 a.m.
Week is the statewide tornado drill on Wednesday, February 2, Consider a tornado watch to be in effect
2011. On the morning of the drill, all participants should consider  Announce watch to staff and students.
themselves under a Tornado Watch. A Watch means you should  Designate authority (coordinator).
monitor the weather and be prepared to go to a safe place in the  Evacuate tornado vulnerable areas.
event of a warning. At approximately 10:10 a.m. EST, the National 10:10 a.m.
Weather Service will issue a practice tornado warning. The warning Tornado warning
will be broadcast on NOAA Alert Radio as a weekly test message.  Receive message.
By 10:30 a.m., an “all-clear” message will be issued. Public and  Coordinator determines threat.
commercial broadcasters are encouraged to participate by 10:20 a.m.
broadcasting these messages immediately. For the Florida Panhandle  Upon determination of immediate threat, give “take
counties within the Central time zone, all drill activities will be shelter” or “duck and cover” command (depending on
repeated one hour earlier (9:10 a.m. Central Standard Time). space available at location).
In real life, you must listen for the watch and warning messages 10:30 a.m.
and determine the threat to your area. Then you should decide Termination of Watch and Warning
which protective actions to take. Important: When in doubt,  Give instructions to return to normal activities. (You
take immediate protective action! Plans may vary depending on will not receive notification. Terminate the drill as you
the number of adults present, how vulnerable your location is, see fit.)
communications and a host of other factors. All Floridians should
use the tornado drill to develop and practice their severe weather After the Drill Wrap-up
plans. Being prepared saves lives! If actual severe weather threatens  Following the drill, assess and revise plan as needed.
Florida on February 2, the drill will be postponed until Friday, The tornado warning will be broadcast on NOAA Alert Radio
February 4. and will be encoded as a weekly test for this drill.

Florida’s Severe Weather Awareness Guide 3


Now is the Time to Prepare
For All of Florida’s Weather!
Preparing for severe weather is the theme of Severe Weather
Awareness Week. Preparedness plans come in all sizes as dictated by
individual and collective needs.
Do you know the basic safety rules?
Would your children know what to do if they were home alone?
Do you have plans in place to move elderly or
disabled people to shelter quickly?

Being Ready for An Emergency is As Easy As . . .

1
EMERGENCY KIT

In an emergency you need to be ready to Games


make it on your own. What should you have
Credit cards and cash
in your disaster supply kit?
Duct tape
1 gallon of water for each person per day. Heavy garbage bags or tarps
You should have enough water for at least 3
days. If you have 4 people in your family, you Important documents
should store 1 gallon of water X4 people Waterproof container
X3 days = 12 gallons of water. Fire extinguisher
Canned and dried food – food that is easy Whistle or airhorn
to prepare and doesn’t need refrigeration
Tools
Manual can opener
Special needs:
Sleeping bags or cots -baby formula, diapers, bottles, and other
Flashlight or lantern with batteries infant supplies
-extra eyeglasses
First-Aid kit
-hearing aid batteries
Bathroom supplies -special equipment for physically challenged
-diabetic supplies
Medicines
-serial numbers of medical devices such as
Emergency Contact list pacemakers
Soap and hand sanitizer -pet supplies such as a cage, leash, food and
vaccination papers
Face masks
NOAA All-Weather Radio or battery- Have 2 kits:
powered radio 1. A large one with 3 days of supplies.
2. A smaller kit to take with you if you must evacuate.

4 Florida Division of Emergency Management


MAKE A PLAN

2
Think ahead and have a plan: Test smoke/carbon monoxide detectors
monthly.
Plan how you will get together in different
Learn how to turn off gas, electric, water and
situations.
heater systems at main breaker switches.
Practice your plans with your family.
Learn First-Aid and CPR.
Have a contact list.
Discuss basic safety rules.
If phones are down, pick 2 meeting places:
Make sure children know what to do if they
1. Near your home are home alone.
2. Somewhere outside the Plan for elderly or disabled family members
neighborhood and neighbors.
Discuss what to do if you must evacuate.

3
BE INFORMED

Have a supply kit. Watch TV or listen to the radio for


Talk it over with your family. information.

Learn about the different threats: Stay calm, have plans ready, and listen
- Severe Weather for instructions from local officials.
- Fire If you have questions, call your county
- Hazardous Materials (biological, emergency management office.
chemical, explosive or radiological) Go to www.FloridaDisaster.org.
- Nuclear
Get kids' activities and information at
www.KidsGetaPlan.com.

GET
READY
NOW!

Florida’s Severe Weather Awareness Guide 5


NOAA All-Hazards Weather Radio
can be your family’s best companion

I
t’s 3 a.m. and you are awoken by a leave the closet and see what happened – dio alert you to National Weather Service
thunderstorm outside. The lightning and to turn off the NOAA Weather Radio severe weather information, but in
flashes and lights up your bedroom; that was still broadcasting tornado warn- partnership with county, state, and fed-
the thunder booms and vibrates the ing information for other nearby towns. eral emergency management officials, it
house. You have been through numerous You just survived a tornado. will alert you to other life-threatening
thunderstorms and know that they can   How important is a 24-hour notifica- disasters.
be loud and scary, but after a while they tion of possible severe weather warnings   NOAA Weather Radios can be pur-
will move away. Your thoughts are inter- to you? It can be life-saving, as was the chased at many retail stores that sell
rupted by a loud alarm. It is the little radio case above. electronic merchandise, as well as
on your mom’s bedside table, the NOAA   NOAA All-Hazards Weather Radio through some mail order catalogs and on
Weather Radio. Suddenly, you hear some- is the lone government-operated radio the Internet.
thing else, a faint roaring noise…then it system that provides National Weather
gets louder and closer. A sound kind of Service severe weather warnings 24 hours
like a train… a day. When a severe weather warning is
  Suddenly, your dad bursts through the issued for an area, the radio will broadcast
door yelling for you to get up – grabbing the information within seconds. If you live
your arm, and pulling you out of bed. As in the path of the severe storm, and your
you run down the hall with him, your family has a NOAA Weather Radio, the
mom and little brother join you as you radio will automatically sound an alarm
rush toward your parent’s bedroom. and then broadcast the warning message.   NOAA All-Hazards Weather Radio
You all pile into the closet – it’s in Whether it is 3 a.m. or 3 p.m., the can mean the difference between life and
the middle of the house and NOAA Weather Radio is always death. The radio broadcast continues to
away from windows. ready to alert you and your give its listeners the ability to constantly
Your dad closes the family of an approaching monitor the weather and to instantly warn
door as the elec- weather threat. them when potentially life-threatening se-
tricity cuts off, and   In addition to severe weath- vere weather approaches their location.
you huddle together er information, the NOAA   For more information please visit
in the dark. The roar Weather Radio will also broadcast the National Weather Service NOAA
continues to get louder, weather observation and forecast in- All-Hazards Weather Radio Website at
and you can just make out formation. The radios are set in “standby” www.weather.gov/nwr.
a voice in the bedroom. It is mode so they are not constantly produc-
the NOAA Weather Radio. Even though ing audio. However, even in standby mode Be WeatherWise;
the power just went out, the battery in the radio will still transmit an alarm if a not Otherwise.
the radio keeps it broadcasting: “This is severe weather watch or warning is issued
a dangerous situation; seek protective for your location. By Angela Enyedi,
shelter immediately. The tornado is ap-   Not only will the NOAA Weather Ra- NWS Jacksonville
proaching…”
  The roaring noise is now deafening, and
the house is shaking. You can hear things Heavy sleeper?
just beyond the closet door breaking,
crashing and pounding. You shrink into Hard of hearing?
the corner of the closet wedged between A disability accessory kit is now
your parents as they repeatedly tell you available through HomeSafe In-
and your brother things will be okay. corporated. This accessory kit in-
  After a few minutes, the roaring fades cludes a pillow shaker and strobe
and rumbles of thunder become distant. light which plugs into your NOAA
You can tell it is almost over. Then you Weather Radio. There is no pro-
gramming necessary.
hear another sound in the distance com-
The accessory kit will automatically
ing closer. This time it is not a roar, but alert you if a warning is issued for
sirens. Help is on the way. It is time to your area.

6 Florida Division of Emergency Management


LIGHTNING

A time-lapse photo of multiple lightning strikes over Tampa Bay.


Photo Credit: Southwest Florida Water Management District

W
ith an average of 1.4 the United States. and cloud. When a connection is made, a
million cloud-to-ground powerful flash occurs. This bright flash we
lightning strikes each What causes lightning see is lightning.
year, no other state in and thunder?
the country experiences more lightning Thunder is a product of lightning. As
strikes than Florida. Why does Florida As a thunderstorm forms, warm air close lighting moves between the ground and
have this distinction? Florida’s geography to the ground begins to rise. Small water thunderstorm, the air around the flash
plays a large role, especially during the droplets are forced upward, higher in the heats rapidly, to temperatures as high as
summer. Hot summer sunshine heats thunderstorm, and freeze into small ice 50,000°F – a temperature hotter than the
the ground, causing warm air to rise. pellets or even smaller ice crystals. The surface of the sun. This sudden heating
Surrounded by the Gulf of Mexico to lighter ice crystals continue rising toward creates expansion of the air around the
the west and the Atlantic Ocean to the the top of the thunderstorm, while heavier lightning bolt at speeds greater than the
east, active afternoon sea breezes gener- ice pellets remain suspended near the cen- speed of sound. The expanding air breaks
ate a very moist environment favorable ter or base of the storm. This movement the sound barrier resulting in the explosive
for the development of thunderstorms. of ice particles within a thunderstorm cre- sound we know as thunder. Because sound
The combination of warm and moist ates an electrical charge difference, a posi- travels much slower than light, thunder is
air spreading inland with the afternoon tive charge at the top and a negative one at always heard after a flash of lightning. You
sea breezes creates a breeding ground the bottom. At the same time, the ground can determine how far away a flash of
for large thunderstorms. Because thun- below takes on a positive charge. When lightning is by counting the number of sec-
derstorm activity peaks in the summer, the difference in electrical charge between onds that pass after observing a lightning
when most people are enjoying the warm the base of the thunderstorm and ground bolt. For every five seconds that elapse,
weather, Florida often has the greatest below becomes too large, an electrical the lightning is one mile away. Sometimes,
number of lightning fatalities each year in current begins moving between the ground you can see lightning in the distance and

Florida’s Severe Weather Awareness Guide 7


Lightning Myths Lightning Facts

If it is not raining, then there is no danger from Lightning often strikes outside of heavy rain and may
lightning. occur as far as 10 miles away from any rainfall.

The rubber soles of the shoes or rubber tires on a car Rubber-soled shoes and rubber tires provide no
will protect you from being struck by lightning. protection from lightning. The steel frame of a hard-
topped vehicle provides increased protection if you
are not touching metal. Although you may be injured if
lightning strikes your car, you are much safer inside a
vehicle than outside.

Heat lightning occurs after very hot summers days and Heat lightning is a term used to describe lightning from
poses no threat. thunderstorm too far away for the thunder to be heard.
Although rare, lightning can still travel up to 25 miles
from the storm and people should still be cautious of
lightning dangers.

Lightning never strikes the same place twice. Lightning often strikes the same place repeatedly,
especially if it is a tall, pointy, and isolated object.

Structures with metal or metal on the body attract Height, pointy shape, and isolation are the dominant
lightning. factors controlling where a lightning bolt will strike.
The presence of metal makes virtually no difference on
where lightning strikes.

not hear thunder. This “heat lightning” extensive range. Lightning can travel as far At the first sign of lightning or sound of
happens when the air dissipates the sound as 10 miles from a thunderstorm, so while thunder, you should immediately head
of the thunder before it reaches you. it may not be raining at your location, inside an enclosed structure and remain
lightning can still reach you. away from windows. Even while inside, it
Lightning dangers is important to stay away from windows
and not use any corded electrical devices.
While we know the cloud conditions Lightning Safety Lightning can easily travel along phone
needed to produce lightning, no one can
forecast the exact location or time of How many times have you been at the lines or through other electrical devices
the next strike of lightning. All thunder- beach or in another outdoor activity and and strike you while inside a building.
storms contain lightning and can strike a noticed a thunderstorm in the distance? In
person, tree or an object either on the Florida, this happens often – almost daily If you can’t make it inside when a thunder-
ground or in the air. Lightning is often seen – during the summer. But people often as- storm approaches, the most dangerous
as an underrated killer, because it does sume the storm is too far away or is not place to be is in an open area, like an ath-
not generate as much attention compared dangerous at their location and sadly, the letic field or golf course. Equally as danger-
to other forms of hazardous weather and vast majority of lightning casualties could ous is being caught over the open water of
usually only claims one or two victims at have been prevented had basic safety ac- a lake or ocean when a thunderstorm is in
a time. On average, lightning kills nearly tions been taken. the area. This is because lightning will tend
60 people each year in the United States. to strike the tallest object in the area. This
Florida averages seven fatalities per year Lightning can strike from many miles also why standing under tall trees is very
due to lightning, with many more injuries. away. In fact it doesn’t even have to be dangerous. When you can’t make it to an
Most people that are struck by lightning raining for lightning to occur. A good rule enclosed building, your next best course
are not killed, but suffer significant inju- of thumb to remember is that if you can of action is to get into a vehicle with a
ries. It is important to remember that a hear thunder, you are close enough to be hard-topped roof.
lightning victim does not continue to carry struck by lightning. Being observant when
an electrical charge and can begin receiv- outside is your first line of defense with The key to remaining safe from a lightning
ing emergency medical care immediately. lightning. A darkening cloud building high strike is to keep an eye to the sky and
in the sky is often the first sign that light- watch for darkening skies on the horizon
Lightning is also dangerous because of its ning could occur. along with distant rumbles of thunder. The

8 Florida Division of Emergency Management


Caring for Pets During Disasters
Lightning Millions of Floridians have pets in their home. Owners of dogs, cats,
Safety Week birds, fish, reptiles, and other animals should develop a disaster plan for
their pets. After all, emergencies do not only affect people, they affect
our animal friends, too! Below are some guidelines to help Floridians
June 19-25, 2011 prepare their pets for emergencies.

  ●  Get a plan for your pets! A lot of times, people leave their pets
at home when they evacuate for a disaster, but pets can get hurt
and lost during disasters. Owners should either take their pets
main tip to remember regarding lightning with them or place them in a secure kennel.
safety is: being outside is never safe during
a thunderstorm!   ●  Have supplies and medical records for your pet. Animals need
food and water just like people do. Be sure to have pet food, bot-
Know the weather forecast before you tled water, food dishes, and any prescription medicines that your
head outdoors. A portable NOAA All-
pet needs in your disaster supply kit. Also, bring all veterinary re-
Hazards Weather Radio is a great way to
monitor the latest forecasts and warn- cords for your animal with you if you decide to leave your home.
ings while outdoors. Hazardous Weather This is really important, since animal medical records can easily
Outlook and Surf Zone Forecasts are get lost or destroyed after a disaster.
available online and on NOAA Weather
Radio outlines the danger for lightning on   ●  Check emergency shelters, hotels, and motels for pet policies.
a daily basis. Some shelters, hotels, and motels do not allow owners to keep
For more information about lightning and
pets in their facilities. Be sure to locate several pet-friendly places
lightning safety, visit: along your evacuation route. If you seek emergency shelter, place
http://www.lightningsafety.noaa.gov. your pets in a secure kennel or go to a pet-friendly shelter.

By Kelly Godsey,
NWS Tallahassee

Annual lightning flash density


across the globe. Note the highest
concentration is over Central Africa,
but Florida also experiences a great
deal of lightning. Photo Credit: NASA

Florida’s Severe Weather Awareness Guide 9


Marine Hazards
And Small Boat Safety

The fishing vessel Waterdog leaning hard to port near the entrance to Jupiter Inlet in a shoaling sea on September 3,
2010. Tragically, the master of the vessel lost control and did not survive. Photo Credit: Stuart Browning

Y
ear-round warm weather, abun- agreeable conditions most of the time. addition, strong, steady breezes can build
dant sunshine, and beautiful sky However, weather and water can change waves and swell that exceed six feet.
and sea vistas attract millions rapidly, posing a threat to boater safety. When these breezes turn into full-fledged
of people to Florida each year. Dangerous waves, lightning, and water- gales, seas are likely to build to 12 feet or
Some stay and make Florida their home. spouts are among the marine hazards fac- more. The safe operation of a small craft
Many others come on vacation to visit ing Florida boaters. requires a competent and alert captain in
the state’s numerous beaches, waterways, any sea condition. When seas build to five
parks, and other natural and human-made Dangerous Waves or six feet, small craft operation is, at the
attractions. Florida waterways draw both very least, cumbersome and potentially
residents and visitors to dive, snorkel, Waves are generated by the wind. When nauseating; at worst, it could be deadly.
swim, ski, fish, cruise, and sail. In fact, waves move far from the wind source, When seas build to seven feet or more,
Florida leads the nation with nearly one they are referred to as swell. When small craft operators should strongly
million registered boats. Another million waves run against a current, they build consider remaining in port. Swells from
boaters (with vessels not registered in up. Waves are constantly changing and both the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico
Florida) use Florida’s waters each year, can grow quickly. Rough seas build rapidly can break when they reach the shallower
according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife as winds approach gale force (34 knots water nearshore, leading to unpredictable
Conservation Commission. Fair weather or 39 mph), such as during a strong sum- and potentially hazardous sea and surf,
and fine seas treat Florida boaters to very mer thunderstorm or a winter squall. In especially near inlets. Even seasoned cap-

10 Florida Division of Emergency Management


forecasts while planning your voyage. at the base of a "type B" waterspout can
Stay in port if lightning threatens. If you reach and exceed gale force (34 knots),
get caught in a thunderstorm out on the which is strong enough to swamp or cap-
water, get low or head below deck, and size a small watercraft. ALL waterspouts
stay away from ungrounded metal objects. pose a threat to boater safety, and should
be avoided.
Waterspouts
Safety Actions
Simply put, a waterspout is a tornado over
water (See tornadoes, page 14). Florida A safe and enjoyable Florida boating expe-
waterspouts come in all shapes, sizes, and rience is your responsibility. Please keep
intensities. However, two spout types pre- the following safety actions in mind when
dominate. The “type A” spout is a violent heading out on the water:
and potentially destructive vortex which •  File a float plan before getting un-
often moves quickly, and is capable of sig- derway—this could be as simple as
nificant structural damage if it moves over letting someone know where you
land. These spouts often form in the spiral are going and when you expect to be
rainbands of approaching tropical storms back.
tains can be challenged by such events. and hurricanes. They also can develop •  Check observed and forecast weather
along or ahead of winter cold front squall conditions before beginning your trip.
lines, with a tendency to form during the •  Know the limitations of your craft—if
Lightning dark of night or early in the morning. The gale warnings or small craft advisories
Florida has the distinction of being known second type of waterspout, the “type B” are in effect, cancel or postpone your
as the “lightning capital of the United spout, is usually less violent, slower mov- voyage.
States”. The shape and orientation of ing, and less destructive than the "type A" •  Wear a life jacket.
the Florida peninsula combined with its •  If you are involved in a marine acci-
location in the summer trade-wind belt, dent, do not leave your boat!
surrounded by water, is a perfect recipe •  The Coast Guard advises boaters to
for abundant lightning production. Sea remain alert and observe safety and
breezes develop in the morning as the security zones at all times.
sun heats the Florida coast. The breeze
generated by the heat moves inland, lead- Marine Weather
ing to the formation of cumulonimbus
clouds, which are giant clouds of water Information
vapor, liquid, and ice towering high into Information pertaining to marine weather
the atmosphere. The updraft (a type of can be obtained via NOAA Weather Ra-
vertical wind) transports tropical heat and dio, with the broadcast available on the
moisture from near the earth’s surface to VHF “weather band” (channels 1–5). The
a height 7–10 miles above ground, where U.S. Coast Guard re-broadcasts some
temperatures are at subzero levels. The marine weather warnings, advisories,
resulting ice, hail, and snow are tossed and statements across the marine radio
violently within the updraft. This harsh spout. This type of waterspout develops
quickly beneath a rapidly building cumulus emergency channel. Another popular
environment is the breeding ground from marine weather source is the Internet.
which Florida lightning is born (See Light- cloud line, most often during the Florida
rainy season (May–October). This type of Each National Weather Service forecast
ning, page 7). office serving Florida has a Website con-
waterspout can drift almost silently over
a sleepy bay or a lagoon, and is very com- taining important local weather informa-
Thunderstorms with frequent cloud-to- tion. Another increasingly popular way to
ground lightning often affect the inland mon during the summer along the coasts
of the lower Florida Keys. However, the obtain marine weather information is the
lakes and rivers during the afternoon, smartphone. To receive marine weather
while early morning lightning storms are winds which swirl and whip up sea spray
information via smartphone, simply
more common along the coast. Lightning point your HTTP-enabled device (PDA)
can strike the ground or water many to mobile.weather.gov. Or, point your
miles away from the storm cloud. If you National Safe WAP-enabled device (Internet capable
hear thunder, then you are close enough Boating Week cell phone) to cell.weather.gov.
to the cloud to be in danger of being
struck by lightning. By Chip Kasper,
May 21-27, 2011
NWS Key West
Be weather and lightning aware! Check

Florida’s Severe Weather Awareness Guide 11


Rip Currents
  Swim Near a Lifeguard
  To Stay Alive

I t was a warm and breezy Saturday


evening in May 2010 in Ft. Lauder-
dale. As teenagers gathered for a high
school prom party at the beach, two
boys decided to go for a quick swim in the
ocean. Beach lifeguards had already gone
home for the day. Despite the apparently
too common in Florida, where an average
of 10 people drown each year as a result of
rip currents. In fact, rip currents kill more
people in Florida in an average year than
hurricanes, tornadoes and lightning. Many
of these drowning incidents occur on days
when the weather is quite pleasant, with a
as 50 to 100 yards offshore. Rip currents
are part of the natural near-shore ocean
circulation, are quite common, and occur
at many beaches every day on both the
Atlantic and Gulf coasts of Florida. Rip
currents can become stronger and more
frequent on certain days because of chang-
nice weather, the boys did not realize that nice breeze blowing onshore. This catches es in weather or ocean conditions. Rip
strong rip currents were present in the beachgoers by surprise since fair weather currents can travel as fast as five mph, or
surf. Not long after the boys entered the is usually associated with pleasant ocean about eight feet per second, which is faster
water, a rip current began to carry both conditions. This is why it is very important than an Olympic swimmer can swim! It is
of them away from shore. Rescuers were to understand how rip currents form and important to understand that rip currents
able to save one of the boys, but unfortu- how to prevent becoming a victim. do not pull people under the water; instead
nately his friend was not able to be saved. they carry people out towards deeper
His body was found two days later only water. Rip currents are mistakenly called
yards from where he was last seen on
What Are Rip Currents? riptides or undertows, but rip currents are
that Saturday evening. Earlier that day, rip A rip current is a strong channel of water much more localized and typically shorter
currents also claimed the lives of a couple moving away from the shore at beaches. in duration than an incoming or outgoing
from Georgia. Rip currents typically form along the astronomical tide.
beach at breaks in the offshore under-
Fair Weather Killers water sandbar, but they also form near Don’t Become a Victim!
structures such as jetties and piers. They
This sad story above is unfortunately all can form very quickly and extend as far The best way to ensure that you don’t be-

12 Florida Division of Emergency Management


the current can get you out of the main
BREAK THE GRIP OF THE RIP! outward flow of water. The current is
simply too fast and strong to swim di-
rectly against it. Most people drown
because they get exhausted from fight-
ing the current. Just remembering the
phrases “Don’t Fight, Swim Left or
IF CAUGHT IN A RIP CURRENT
Right” or “Swim to the Side to Stay
•  Don’t fight the current Alive” could help save your life.
•  Swim out of the current, then to ashore ESCAPE ESCAPE ●  Stay calm. Remain afloat and allow the
•  If you can’t escape, float or tread water
•  If you need help, call or wave for assistance rip current to pull you out until free
from the current, then swim back to-
wards the beach at an angle away from
the current.

If you notice someone struggling in the


water as a result of a rip current, your
first step is to notify lifeguards. If no life-
guards are present, have someone call
9-1-1. You can also throw a flotation de-
come a rip current victim is not to enter currents. Never swim alone. vice to the victim, such as an inflatable ball
the water if rip currents are present in the ● Avoid swimming near piers and jet- or a lifejacket. It is important to remem-
surf and heed the advice of lifeguards. If ties. Permanent currents often exist ber that many people drown while trying
you do go into the water, make sure you in these areas. to save someone from a rip current. Don’t
don’t go too far offshore and swim near ● Pay attention to the latest weather become a victim too.
a lifeguard. If there are no lifeguards at forecasts from local media sources, as
your beach, know the warning flag sys- well as the National Weather Service To stay up-to-date on the latest weather
tem. Since 2006, approximately 80% of all which issues daily Hazardous Weather information, including the risk of rip cur-
rip current-related drowning incidents in Outlooks and Surf Zone Forecasts. rents for any given day, please visit the
Florida occurred at unguarded beaches. National Weather Service website at
If caught in a rip current, doing ei- www.weather.gov or http://ripcurrents.
Tips to Avoid Being a Rip ther of the following will increase noaa.gov/forecasts/shtml. For additional
your chances of survival: rip current safety and awareness informa-
Current Victim ●  DON’T panic and DON’T swim against tion, please visit http://ripcurrents.noaa.
Here are some important safety tips to the current. Doing either could cost gov.
avoid being caught in a rip current: your life.
●  Know how to swim. ● Swim parallel to the beach. In other By Robert Molleda,
● Swim near lifeguard stands and heed words, if facing the beach, swim either NWS Miami
advice from lifeguards, as well as flags to the left or the right. Rip currents are
and signs that warn of possible rip relatively narrow, and swimming across

Rip Current
Awareness Week
June 5 – 11, 2011
Florida’s Severe Weather Awareness Guide 13
TORNADOES
Photo Credit: National Weather Service

Florida Tornadoes brings a distinct risk of tornadoes to the twice: April 15, 1958 and April 4, 1966,
Sunshine State, as nearly every tropical both in Polk County.
Tornadoes are not usually associated with cyclone can produce tornadoes as it im-
the Sunshine State. However in the past pacts our state. Waterspouts
20 years, Florida had more reported tor-
nadoes and more tornado-related deaths Although all tornadoes are quite danger- Summer is also the most likely time of year
than Oklahoma, Nebraska or Iowa. Of- ous, the most significant and life-threat- for waterspouts, which are tornadoes that
ficially, Florida ranks third nationally in ening Florida tornadoes have historically occur over water. NOAA scientist Dr. Jo-
tornado reports (trailing only Texas and occurred in the winter and spring during seph Golden studied Florida waterspouts
Kansas) and fourth in tornado deaths the late night and early morning. In fact for several decades and estimated nearly
since 1990. 100 of the 152 tornado-related deaths in 300 waterspouts occur off the Florida
Florida since 1950 occurred between 9:00 coast each year. These are typically as-
Florida tornadoes come in all shapes and pm and 7:00 am, with 113 of the 152 total sociated with developing cumulus clouds
sizes, and occur year-round. The most deaths occurring in February, March and or thunderstorms and are often weak by
common time for tornado reports is in April. The February 22-23, 1998 tornado tornado standards. Regardless, boaters
the afternoon, although tornadoes have outbreak and the Groundhog Day out- and those on the beach need to quickly
been spotted at all hours of the day and break in 2007 occurred well after dark move away from them as they can easily
night in Florida. Most Florida twisters oc- in the winter and resulted in 63 fatalities flip over a vessel. If these move onshore,
cur in the summer during the afternoon, combined across parts of Central Florida. they are classified as tornadoes. In addi-
but fortunately these are typically small The strongest tornadoes to ever strike tion, waterspouts can accompany super-
and short-lived. Hurricane season also Florida were rated EF4, which happened cells, such as the damaging tornado that

14 Florida Division of Emergency Management


u
The # 1 wind safety rule is to get as many walls between you

Y o
and the outside world as possible so the debris in the wind

Did
cannot reach you. It is not the wind that kills and injures people;
it is the debris in the wind.

?
For example, you can drive on the highway at 70 mph and stick

o w
your hand out the window and not be harmed. However, you

n
would suffer serious injury if your hand hit a brick or branch

K
while the car is speeding down the road. If you can keep
the debris in the wind from reaching your location, you will
survive the wind event–whether it is a tornado, hurricane or
thunderstorm downburst wind.

volunteer storm spotters. Timely reports stay informed about tornadoes. These are
from SKYWARN spotters can lead to special radios that receive weather infor-
early warnings that can save lives. mation. The NOAA Weather Radio can
be programmed to turn on and alert you
The National Weather Service will issue of dangerous weather, even in the middle
a Tornado Warning when a tornado has of the night. Make sure the radio is always
been either seen by a weather spotter or plugged in and check that it has good bat-
when Doppler radar indicates strong ro- teries in case the power goes out. You can
tation inside a thunderstorm. If a Tornado also monitor TV and radio for the latest
Warning is issued for your area, you and severe weather information.
your family should seek shelter immedi-
ately! Place as many walls as you can be-
tween you and the tornado, and get as low Remember the
as possible. Find shelter in a small, interior difference!
room on the lowest floor of your home
and stay away from windows and doors. A Watch is a ‘heads-up’. It means pay at-
Use pillows to cover your head. Leave tention. Make sure you know where to
mobile homes and find a stronger build- go for shelter if you need to make a rapid
ing or house. In the classroom, get under- decision. Be sure you have a way to be
neath a desk or table and cover your head alerted or awakened if a warning is issued.
with your arms. If caught outdoors or on
the road your options are not ideal, but A Warning means take cover now! The
you can still take action to survive. Your threat is ongoing or is forecast to strike
first choice would be to get inside a sturdy soon! Get in, and get down!
began as a waterspout and killed three
structure. If that is not an option, try to
people as it moved into Grand Bahama on By Jeffry Evans,
get as low as possible, such as a creek bed
March 29, 2010. NWS Tallahassee
or ditch, and cover your head.

Predicting Tornadoes: NOAA Weather Radio is a great way to


Warnings and Safety
The National Weather Service uses pow-
erful tools such as Doppler radar to de- Number of Reported
tect possible tornadoes. Doppler radar Tornadoes by State
identifies the rotation inside a thunder-
storm that could be the beginning of a
(1990-2009)
tornado. However, an actual tornado is
typically too small for the Doppler radar 1–TX 3,150
to detect. Therefore, meteorologists de- 2–KS 1,921
pend on volunteer storm spotters who 3–FL 1,358
report funnel clouds, tornadoes and other
severe weather to the National Weather
4–NE 1,190
Service. The SKYWARN program is the 5–OK 1,160
National Weather Service’s network of

Florida’s Severe Weather Awareness Guide 15


Before thunderstorms develop, a change in Rising air within the thunderstorm updraft tilts An area of rotation, 2-6 miles wide, now
wind direction and an increase in wind speed the rotating air from horizontal to vertical. extends through much of the storm. Most
with increasing height creates an invisible strong and violent tornadoes form within this
horizontal spinning effect in the lower area of strong rotation. Photo credit: National
atmosphere. Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

How does the Enhanced Fujita Scale work? TORNADO SAFETY ACTIONS
The Enhanced Fujita Scale (EF Scale) uses actual Homes
damage to estimate a tornado’s wind speed. Tornadoes
are classified according to the damage they cause on ● When a tornado watch is issued, be prepared to
the Fujita Scale. This scale was named after its creator, take action.
Dr. Theodore Fujita. The EF Scale is to be used with ● When a tornado warning is issued or a tornado
caution. Tornado wind speeds are still largely unknown, is imminent, go to the innermost room on the
and the wind speeds on the EF Scale never have been lowest level away from windows. Interior closets,
scientifically tested and proven. Winds of different halls and bathrooms are good places to go.
speeds may cause the same damage depending on ● If you do not have time to get to the lowest level,
how well-built a structure is, wind direction, wind get under a bed. If you are at school, get under
duration, battering by flying debris and various other your desk.
factors. ● Consider constructing a tornado-safe room in or
adjacent to your home.
EF 0 Gale Tornado: 65-85 miles per hour (mph)
Some damage to chimneys. Tree branches broken off. Open Country
Shallow-rooted trees uprooted. ● Seek a nearby shelter, if time permits.
● If not, lie flat in the nearest depression, ditch or
EF 1 Moderate Tornado: 86-110 mph culvert. Cover your head with your arms.
Roof surfaces peeled off. Mobile homes overturned.
Moving autos pushed off roads.
Vehicles
EF 2 Significant Tornado: 111-135 mph ● Abandon your vehicle and seek refuge in a build-
Considerable damage. Roofs torn off frame houses. ing or, as a last resort, a ditch.
Large trees snapped or uprooted. Light object ● Do not try to outrun a tornado.
projectiles generated.
Offices, Hotels and Condos
EF 3 Severe Tornado: 136-165 mph
Severe damage. Roofs and some walls torn off well- ● When action is required, take shelter in an inte-
constructed homes. Most trees in forests uprooted. rior hallway on the lowest floor, or in a closet or
Heavy cars lifted off ground. small room.
● As a last resort, get under heavy furniture, away
EF 4 Devastating Tornado: 166-200 mph from windows.
Well-constructed houses leveled. Structures blown off
weak foundations. Cars thrown and large projectiles Manufactured and Mobile Homes
generated.
● Have a plan of where to go during a tornado
threat–a nearby pre-identified safe structure
EF 5 Incredible Tornado: 200+ mph
within walking distance.
Strong frame houses lifted off foundations and
● Abandon mobile homes and go to a firmly built
disintegrated. Automobile-sized projectiles fly through
shelter.
the air in excess of 100 mph. Trees debarked.

16 Florida Division of Emergency Management


Thunderstorms

With more thunderstorms annually than any other state in the country, Florida is very susceptible to dangerous
lightning strikes. Photo credit: NOAA.

A
thunderstorm is small when ous because they contain lightning and can ter, but as a gas known as “water vapor”.
compared to a hurricane. Most also produce damaging winds, heavy rain Water vapor is invisible, and is released
thunderstorms are about 15 which may cause flooding, tornadoes and into the air when liquid water evaporates.
miles wide and last about 30 hail. There are about 100,000 thunder- There is always some moisture in the air,
minutes while hurricanes can be larger storms each year in the United States and but thunderstorms need a lot of moisture
than Texas and last for more than a week. about one out of every ten storms causes in order to form. Warm temperatures and
All thunderstorms are considered danger- damage. large bodies of water can increase both
evaporation and the amount of moisture
How in the air, and Florida has plenty of both.
Thunderstorms
Form When the weather conditions are right
for thunderstorm updrafts to form, mete-
Three things are needed in orologists call the atmosphere “unstable”.
the atmosphere for thunder- Warm air is less dense than cold air which
storms to develop and grow: means a box filled with warm air weighs
the atmosphere needs to be less than an identical box of cold air. This
moist, unstable, and have a is how a hot air balloon can float up into
source of lift (from a cold front the sky. A thunderstorm will continue to
or the sea breeze). Moisture is grow if the temperature inside the thun-
the fuel for thunderstorms. derstorm is warmer than the outside
This moisture is present in temperature.
the atmosphere not as a liquid
like we normally think of wa- Florida has many days in the summer

Florida’s Severe Weather Awareness Week 17


Thunderstorms need moisture, an unsta-
THUNDERSTORM SAFETY ACTIONS ble atmosphere, and lift in order to form.
Florida experiences more thunderstorms
than other states because: (1) Florida is
located close to large bodies of water
● Monitor NOAA Alert Radio. Listen for severe thunderstorm that provide moisture; (2) Florida receives
plenty of sunlight which warms the air
watches and warnings.
near the ground and causes unstable air;
● Avoid windows, metal objects and electrical equipment. and (3) Florida has frequent sea breezes
that provide lift for the thunderstorms.
● When severe thunderstorms threaten, go to a small interior Without any of these three things, Florida
room on the lowest floor of your home, school or business. would not have such numerous thunder-
storms.
● Before a severe thunderstorm, move vehicles into garages
or carports to help prevent damage, time permitting. Thunderstorm Dangers
● Postpone outdoor activities if thunderstorms are imminent. Thunderstorms can create dangerous
conditions like lightning, which is found
● Avoid tall structures such as trees and powerlines. in all thunderstorms. Thunderstorms can
also create tornadoes, and heavy rains
that lead to flooding. Downburst winds
are another type of danger. Think of a
when the air has plenty of moisture, but Although Florida has many days when the downburst wind as a giant water balloon
thunderstorms do not form on every hu- atmosphere is both moist and unstable, crashing into the ground and causing wind
mid day. This is because thunderstorms this usually is not enough for thunder- damage. Hail is another danger produced
need to be able to change the invisible storms to form. In order for an unstable by thunderstorms. Many thunderstorms
water vapor back into liquid water for atmosphere to produce the updrafts reach high into the atmosphere where
clouds and raindrops to form. This hap- needed for thunderstorms, a little boost temperatures drop below zero degrees
pens inside the thunderstorm updraft. All is needed to get the updraft started. Me- Fahrenheit. When this happens, strong
thunderstorms have an updraft, where air teorologists call these boosts “lift”. One updrafts can push a hailstone high into
rises rapidly to seven to 10 miles above way to think of lift is to imagine shovel- the cloud where rain and cloud drops can
the ground. At those heights, the air tem- ing snow, as you move forward the snow freeze to it. The hailstone then falls back
perature is much colder than near the goes up the shovel. In the atmosphere, lift into the lower and warmer part of the
ground and the atmosphere can’t hold can force air at the surface up into the cloud, but the updraft often pushes the
as much water vapor. This causes the sky until a thunderstorm updraft devel- hailstone back into the freezing tempera-
moisture to turn into liquid water or ice ops and takes over. In Florida, lift typically tures several times, adding a layer of ice
and that forms clouds and raindrops. The comes in the form of a cold front pass- each time. Since January of 2008, there
updraft also holds the raindrops up while ing through in the winter or a sea breeze have been 157 reported hail storms in
they grow so they don’t fall to the ground boundary forming during a typical sum- Florida with hailstones at least one inch
right away. mer afternoon. across.

es a
What mak Severe?
e r s t o r m
Thund
f these:
Any one o
es
√ Tornado
r a b o v e 58 mph
o
√ Wind at
iz e h a il (1inch in
-s
√ Quarter ) or larger
diameter

18 Florida Division of Emergency Management


WATCH vs. WARNING
Although radar, satellite, and
computer systems continue to
improve, if you do not know what
to do or where to go, warnings
are not effective! Remember,
severe weather can develop
rapidly and advance warning
time may only be a few minutes.
Everyone needs the knowledge
to react quickly and execute
a plan of action when severe
weather materializes.
A WATCH means that
conditions are favorable for
severe thunderstorm, tornado,
Keeping an Eye on the a strong thunderstorm in the area is ca- or flash flood development.
pable of causing significant damage. People This is the time to be weather-
Weather in the path of the storm should take cover aware. You should keep alert by
Once thunderstorms form, meteorolo- immediately in a room on the lowest floor
listening to a radio, television,
gists track them using radar. Radar works of your house away from windows. A
or weather radio for the latest
by sending out pulses of energy, which Severe Thunderstorm Watch is issued if
the conditions are right for a severe thun- weather information. Know
reflect off raindrops and head back to- where your children are. Be
wards the radar. The radar then “listens” derstorm to form. There is no immediate
danger, but you should keep a close eye on aware of where you will go and
for an echo. Doppler radar can also de-
tect heavy rain, hail and strong winds. the weather. what you will do if a severe
The National Weather Service maintains thunderstorm, tornado, or flash
a network of 10 radars that cover Florida. By Tyler Fleming, flood threatens.
National Weather Service meteorologists NWS Tampa Bay/Ruskin
A WARNING means a severe
may issue a Severe Thunderstorm Warn-
thunderstorm, tornado, or
ing based on what they see using radar
and other tools. A Warning means that flash flood has been sighted or
indicated by radar. People in the
path of the storm should take
immediate life-savings actions.

Florida’s Severe Weather Awareness Guide 19


Hurricanes and Their Hazards

Satellite image of Hurricane Ivan in the Gulf of Mexico on September 15, 2004. Photo credit: NASA

T
he most feared weather phe- landfall in Miami and travelled across the visitors need to plan ahead and remain
nomenon throughout Florida South Florida Peninsula. To date, Hurri- ready for possible hurricane impacts as
during the summer and early fall cane Andrew remains one of only three early as June and as late as November.
is the tropical cyclone (tropical hurricanes to make landfall at Category 5   Only a small percentage of the nu-
storm/hurricane). Close to the tropics intensity in the United States (in addition merous low pressure systems that move
and surrounded on three sides by warm to the 1935 Labor Day Hurricane which across the warm Atlantic waters during
water, Florida is particularly vulnerable to crossed the Florida Keys and Hurricane the summer are able to take advantage
these systems as they develop and move Camille which struck Mississippi in 1969). of favorable conditions to become more
generally westward across the Atlantic   The Atlantic hurricane season officially organized. When a counter-clockwise
Ocean, Gulf of Mexico, and Caribbean begins on June 1st and continues through circulation develops at sea level, com-
Sea. During a typical year, one or more November 30th. Although the number bined with persistent thunderstorm ac-
tropical storms or hurricanes threaten of tropical storms and hurricanes typi- tivity, the weather system is designated a
to impact portions of the state. How- cally peaks during August and September, Tropical Depression. Once sustained
ever, it only takes one tropical cyclone to it is important to remember that Florida (constant) winds in the weather system
produce widespread devastation across can be impacted by tropical weather sys- reach 39 mph, the system is classified
a large area. The 1992 Hurricane Season tems any time during the six-month-long as a Tropical Storm. If winds increase
serves as a reminder of this fact, as six season. A recent example is Hurricane further and reach 74 mph or greater, the
tropical cyclones formed (a normal year Wilma, which struck Florida during late system is declared a Hurricane. Hur-
has eleven), but one storm intensified October 2005, bringing damaging winds, ricanes with winds 111 mph or greater are
into a major hurricane (Andrew) and pro- flooding rains, and tornadoes to the designated Major Hurricanes, and are
duced widespread devastation as it made southern half of the state. Residents and capable of catastrophic damage.

20 Florida Division of Emergency Management


Damages from Hurricane Jeanne in Indian River County in 2004. Photo Credit: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

  The first images that the words hurri- tornadoes often move at speeds of 50 tropical system. A general rule of thumb
cane and tropical storm bring to mind are mph or greater. Regardless of origin, all (Kraft rule) used for estimating the po-
objects being thrown around and palm and tornadoes have the potential to be dam- tential maximum rainfall total (in inches)
pine trees bending sideways from strong aging and deadly. Another preferred area from a tropical cyclone is to take 100 and
winds. Hurricanes and tropical storms for tornado development is within the far divide it by the storm’s forward motion
also bring storm surge, coastal flooding, outer rain bands, often hundreds of miles (in knots).
flooding from heavy rain, and tornadoes. away from the tropical cyclone center.   Storm surge is the term used to de-
For those away from the immediate coast- These tornadoes can affect locations that scribe the wall of water that is pushed
line, inland flooding and tornadoes are otherwise would not experience direct toward the shoreline as a hurricane
often the most hazardous impacts from impacts from the tropical storm or hur- moves onshore. Storm surge combines
these systems. ricane. Therefore, don’t assume you are with the local tide (resulting in the storm
  One of the more overlooked hazards safe because the storm is passing far from tide), along with the battering, wind-
associated with tropical cyclones is tor- your location. driven waves (on top of the storm tide)
nadoes. Tornadoes associated with   Flooding from tropical cyclones is not to push a tremendous volume of water
tropical systems typically form in the correlated with the intensity of the sys- onto the shore, often resulting in signifi-
right-front quadrant of the circulation, tem, but instead is related to the speed cant damage. Those living in coastal and
relative to the direction of forward mo- of forward motion. Slow moving tropi- near-coastal communities should know in
tion. If viewing the tropical system as a cal storms and hurricanes often produce which evacuation zone they reside (if any),
clock, this would be the area from noon large amounts of rain, which can lead to as well as the elevation of their property.
to three o’clock in the direction that the significant inland flooding. As with tor- All Florida residents should determine if
storm is traveling. While normally not as nadoes, flooding impacts can occur hun- they live within a low-lying area suscep-
intense as tornadoes produced by non- dreds of miles away from the cyclone tible to flooding. When local officials de-
tropical severe thunderstorms, these center, or from the remnants of a former clare an evacuation for your area, move

Florida’s Severe Weather Awareness Guide 21


to the nearest evacuation destination out- within eight hours, exiting near Daytona hours prior to the time when damaging
side of the danger zone. You may choose Beach. Charley exhibited a fast forward winds are expected. From the time of the
to stay with friends or relatives, or to stay motion of 25 mph (nearly twice the typical initial threat until well after the storm
at a hotel/motel. As a last resort, you may speed for Florida hurricanes) and brought departs, National Weather Service me-
decide to stay at an evacuation shelter. hurricane force winds to the Orlando teorologists coordinate closely with local
  High Winds are the most well-known Metro area – over 100 miles inland from emergency managers, as well as other
impact of tropical storms and hurricanes. the point of landfall. county, state, and federal officials, so that
The highest winds occur just outside the   As Florida residents, you should pre- evacuation decisions and other consider-
eye (or center), within a region referred pare each year for the possibility of tropi- ations are made with plenty of time for
to as the eye-wall. Hurricane force winds cal storm or hurricane conditions and action and response. However, the most
can easily damage or destroy mobile increase your awareness of the potential critical decisions for the protection of
homes and other non-permanent struc- hazards. Review and update your family your family and home are your responsi-
tures, often moving them well away from disaster plan prior to each season. Plan- bility! Be prepared before the hurricane
their foundations. Roofs, pool enclosures, ning in advance for possible impacts will season begins by having an up-to-date fam-
trees, and power lines are also frequently go a long way toward keeping your family ily disaster plan, and an emergency supply
damaged by hurricane force winds. Al- safe when a tropical storm or hurricane kit. Remain informed of possible threats
though the winds of a hurricane typically affects your area. The National Hurricane throughout the season, and put your plan
weaken rapidly following landfall, Florida’s Center, together with your local National into action when the time comes. Follow-
flat terrain and narrow width allow strong Weather Service forecast office, will issue ing this advice will help keep you and your
winds to survive farther inland than other Tropical Storm and Hurricane Watches family weather-safe.
parts of the country. This effect is magni- and Warnings in plenty of time for you to
fied by the forward speed of the tropical prepare for a storm. Watches are is- By Arlena Moses and Scott Spratt,
cyclone. In August 2004, Hurricane Char- sued 48 hours in advance of the time NWS Melbourne
ley made landfall in Southwest Florida, damaging winds are possible within the
then moved across the Florida Peninsula specified area. Warnings are issued 36

The destructive path Hurricane Andrew took in 1992. Photo Credit: National Hurricane Center

22 Florida Division of Emergency Management


HURRICANES

Every hurricane is different. This image depicts the general changes that occur in the weather as a Category 2 hurricane approaches the
coast from 96 hours out, 72 hours out, etc. Photo Credit: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

A Possible Hurricane Experience


What's it like to go through a hurricane on the ground? in every eight seconds. A hurricane watch is issued, and
areas with long evacuation times are given the order to
What are the early warning signs of an approaching begin evacuating.
tropical cyclone?
  ●  36 hours before landfall
Just as every person is an individual, every hurricane is different The first signs of the storm appear. The pressure is falling
and every experience with a storm will be unique. The summary steadily, the winds pick up to about 10-20 mph, and the
below is of a general sequence of events one might expect from ocean swell is about 10-12 feet in height and coming
a Category 2 hurricane approaching a coastal area. What you in every five to seven seconds. On the horizon, a large
might experience could be vastly different. mass of white cirrus clouds appear. As the veil of clouds
approaches, it covers more of the horizon. A hurricane
warning is issued and people living in mobile homes and
  ●  96 hours before landfall low-lying areas are ordered to evacuate.
At first there aren't any apparent signs of a storm.The pres-
sure is steady, winds are light and fair, and weather clouds   ●  24 hours before landfall
dot the sky. The perceptive observer will note a swell on In addition to the overcast, low clouds streak by overhead.
the ocean surface of about three feet in height with a wave The pressure continues to fall and the wind picks up to
coming ashore every ten seconds.These waves race out far 35 mph. The wind-driven waves are covered in whitecaps
ahead of a storm at sea, but could easily be masked by local and streaks of foam begin to ride over the surface. Evacua-
wind-driven waves. tions should be completed and final preparations should be
made by this time.
  ●  72 hours before landfall
Little has changed, except that the ocean swell has in-   ●  18 hours before landfall
creased to about six feet in height and the waves now come The low clouds are thicker and bring driving rain squalls
in every nine seconds. This means that the storm, still far with gusty winds. Winds are whistling by at 40 mph. It is
over the horizon, is approaching. hard to stand against the wind.

  ●  48 hours before landfall   ●  12 hours before landfall


If anything, weather conditions have improved. The sky is The rain squalls are more frequent and the winds don't di-
now clear of clouds, the pressure is steady, and the wind is minish after they depart. The pressure is falling rather rap-
almost calm. The swell is now about nine feet and coming idly. The wind is howling at hurricane force at 74 mph, and

Florida’s Severe Weather Awareness Guide 23


small, loose objects are flying through the air and branches brilliant white in the sunlight. The winds begin to pick up
are stripped from some trees. The sea advances with every slightly and the clouds on the far side of the eyewall loom
storm wave that crashes ashore and the surface is covered overhead.
with white streaks and foam patches.
  ●  One hour after landfall
  ●  Six hours before landfall The sky darkens and the winds and rain return just as heavy
The rain is constant now and the wind, now around 90 mph, as they were before the eye.The storm surge begins a slow
drives it horizontally. The storm surge has advanced above retreat, but the monstrous waves continue to crash ashore.
the high tide mark. It is impossible to stand upright outside The pressure is now rising, the winds rage at 105 mph, and
without bracing yourself, and heavy items torn loose by the front
heavy objects like coconuts side of the storm are thrown about
and plywood sheets become and into sides of buildings that had
airborne missiles. The wave been facing away from the storm’s
tops are cut off and make the winds before the eye passed.
sea surface a whitish mass of
spray.   ●  Six hours after landfall
The flooding rains continue, but the
  ●  One hour before landfall winds have diminished to 90 mph.
It didn't seem possible, but The storm surge is retreating and
the rain has become heavier, pulling debris out to sea or strand-
it is now a torrential down- ing seaborne objects well inland. It
pour. Low areas inland be- is still impossible to go outside.
come flooded from the rain.
The winds are roaring at 105   ●  12 hours after landfall
mph, and the pressure is fall- The rain now comes in squalls and
ing rapidly. The sea is white the winds begin to diminish after
with foam and streaks. The each squall passes. The wind is still
storm surge has covered howling near hurricane force at 70
coastal roads and 16 foot mph, and the ocean is covered with
waves crash into buildings streaks and foam patches. The sea
near the shore. level returns to the high tide mark.
Doppler radar image of Hurricane Frances making landfall on
the southern end of Hutchinson Island on September 5, 2004.
  ●  The eye Photo Credit: National Weather Service   ●  36 hours after landfall
Just as the storm reaches The overcast has broken and the
its peak, the winds begin large mass of white cirrus clouds
to slacken, and the sky starts to brighten. The rain ends disappears over the horizon. The sky is clear and the sun is
abruptly, and the clouds break and blue sky is seen. How- brilliant.The winds are a steady 10 mph. All around are torn
ever, the pressure reaches its lowest point and the storm trees and battered buildings. The air may smell of vegeta-
surge reaches the furthest inland. Wild waves crash into tion and muck that was pulled up by the storm from the
anything in the grasp of the surge. Soon the winds fall to bottom of the sea to cover the shore. Local officials begin
near calm, and the air is uncomfortably warm and humid. response efforts and some municipalities may give notice
Looking up you can see huge walls of cloud on every side, for residents to return.

National Hurricane Preparedness Week


May 22-28, 2011

START THE SEASON WITH A


Family Disaster Plan
24 Florida Division of Emergency Management
FLOODING

Turn Around, Don’t Drown

F
loods are one of the most common winds or lunar effects. deaths occur when people drive or walk
weather hazards in the United into moving water. Floods can also cause
States. Floods can affect any part Whether flooding occurs near or far away casualties to animals, damage any type of
of Florida at any time. Effects from from a river, water can get high enough structure, including bridges, cars, build-
flooding can be localized, impacting just a that streets are no longer safe to drive on. ings, roadways, power and sewer systems,
few streets in a neighborhood or commu- The National Weather Service recom- and also lead to waterborne diseases.
nity, or very large, affecting multiple cities, mends that if you see a flooded roadway,
counties and even whole states. “Turn Around, Don’t Drown”, meaning
that it’s safer to turn your car around Flood forecasts and
Not all floods are alike. Some floods de- and find an alternate route than to drive warnings
velop slowly, and may take a few hours through the water. It only takes two feet
or a few days to have an impact. On the of water to cause a large vehicle like an Meteorologists try to predict accurately
other hand, flash floods happen quickly, SUV or pick-up truck to float away. The when, where and how much rain will fall.
sometimes in a matter of minutes. smaller the vehicle, the less water it takes. The total amount of rain and how fast it
Driving on flooded roads is also danger- falls (the rainfall rate) along with the cur-

Flood development and


impacts
There are different ways floods can oc-
cur. The ground can become saturated
when heavy rains happen. This means the
ground cannot hold any more water. Any
additional rain sits on top of the ground
and can move onto streets and into riv-
ers, canals and streams. Sometimes, so
much rain moves into these waterways
that they fill up and spill over their banks
and cause flooding. In urban areas, there is
so much pavement and so many buildings
that have replaced the natural landscape
that streets can fill up with water very Storm surge from Hurricane Frances in Martin County in 2004. Photo Credit: National Oceanic and
quickly with just a few inches of rain. With Atmospheric Administration
over 2,300 miles of coastline, Florida is ous because unknown objects may be rent soil condition affect how much wa-
also vulnerable to coastal flooding from in the water that could cause damage ter will run off into other areas once the
high waves caused by hurricanes, strong to your vehicle. Eighty percent of flood ground is saturated. The more water that

Florida’s Severe Weather Awareness Guide 25


runs down into streams or lower areas, the ocean, the strong winds cause the stay near the coast during a hurricane. If
the worse the flooding can be. Because water to pile up. As the hurricane makes your area is told to evacuate, follow the
Florida is flat with little changes in eleva- landfall, this water is pushed onshore at official evacuation procedures and move
tion in most places, water can pool in low- the coast. The stronger the hurricane as far inland as possible.
lying areas for days and sometimes weeks is, the higher the wall of water will be.
after the rain has ended. This water is not Moving water is very powerful and as a Meteorologists at the National Hurricane
safe to walk through or play in. Standing result, many hurricane-related deaths Center, the Southeast River Forecast
water is a natural breeding ground for are because of the storm surge. Between Center and local Florida National Weath-
mosquitoes, which can carry the deadly 1975 and 2005, there were fewer people er Service offices watch hurricanes very
West Nile virus. killed by storm surge due to technological closely to try to forecast how much rainfall
advances in evacuation warning systems. a hurricane may produce and how much
At the National Weather Service, hy- However, Hurricanes Rita and Katrina flooding may occur. These meteorologists
drologists team up with meteorologists to made landfall along the Gulf coast in 2005 use satellite images, Doppler radar and
produce the best river and flood forecasts and serve to remind everyone of how computer models to try to warn people
and warnings possible. These river fore- deadly this flooding can be. The storm ahead of any flooding that may happen in
casts are available on the Internet. The surge from Hurricane Katrina was over 25 order to save lives and property. Flood
Web pages show maps with river forecast feet high and moved over a mile inland in and Coastal Flood Watches/Warnings will
points, color-coded for river levels. Spe- some places. Hurricane Katrina is a great also be issued by the National Weather
cific point forecasts are shown as graphs. example of why it is very dangerous to Service if flooding from rainfall or flooding
These graphs show past, current and
forecast river stage levels along with flood
potential information. River flood fore- Flash Flood
casts are now available on the easy-to-use
Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service Flash flooding occurs when the ground becomes sat-
Web site at: www.weather.gov/ahps. If urated with water that has fallen too quickly to be
you live along or near a river, you should absorbed. Flash floods can also occur due to a dam
or levee failure. These floods occur within an hour
pay attention to the forecast, especially in
and can destroy structures, down trees and wash
times of significant rains. It takes time to out roads. You may not always have warning of these
prepare for river flooding, so get a head sudden and deadly floods.
start by being alert to the forecasts. For
people living in areas away from rivers,
forecasters will also issue Flood and Flash Urban Flood
Flood Advisories, Watches and Warnings
Flooding can be magnified in urban areas as paved
when urban street flooding is possible. areas lose their ability to absorb rainfall. Urbaniza-
tion increases water runoff as much as 2 to 6 times
over what would occur on natural terrain. These
Hurricanes and flooding floods make driving very dangerous.

While hurricanes are known and feared


for their ferocious winds, historically it’s
the water that causes most deaths at-
tributed to hurricanes. About ninety per- River Flood
cent of all hurricane deaths happen from River floods occur in Florida on a yearly basis, and
drowning in either storm surge or fresh- can cause extensive damage. Many river basins
water flooding. While devastating storm stream into northern Florida from Georgia and Al-
surge usually comes from strong hurri- abama, but other rivers are located further south
canes, even the weakest tropical storm or near Lake Okeechobee. As water runoff collects
tropical depression can cause widespread in rivers and streams, the excess water can be too
and damaging floods, like those caused by much to handle and may overflow the banks.
Tropical Storm Fay in 2008. (See story on
hurricanes, Page 20). The record 24-hour Areal Flooding
rainfall in Florida occurred in Yankeetown
in September 1950 when Hurricane Easy Areal flooding is usually not life-threatening, but re-
dropped an incredible 38.7 inches of rain sults in standing water in low-lying areas and open
which caused extensive flooding. fields. Agricultural losses can occur with these
floods. In addition, stagnant water can serve as a
breeding ground for insects and disease.
Another very dangerous type of flooding
a hurricane can produce is called storm
surge flooding. As a hurricane moves over

26 Florida Division of Emergency Management


from storm surge is possible.
Storm surge from Hurricane Frances in
Martin County in 2004. Photo Credit: Be aware of flood hazards no matter
National Oceanic and Atmospheric
where you live, and especially if you live
Administration
in a low-lying area, near a body of water
or downstream from a dam. Even very
small streams, creeks, culverts, canals, or
low-lying areas that appear harmless in
dry weather can flood. Be aware of your
flood threat, have supplies on hand to
help protect your home from flooding and
consider purchasing flood insurance.

By Eric Oglesby,
NWS Tampa Bay/Ruskin

National
Flood Safety
Awareness
Week

March 14-18,
2011

Flood Safety Actions Drive carefully when water


  Two feet of rushing water can
covers the road. If you cannot carry away most vehicles
Never play in flooded areas
 see the roadway beneath the including sport utility vehicles
where hidden sharp objects, water, do not drive through it! and pick-ups.
electrocution and pollution are The water may be deeper than
serious hazards. it appears and the road may  Most flood-related deaths occur
already be washed away. at night and are vehicular.
 In highly flood-prone areas, keep
materials such as sandbags, Heed water contamination
  Urban and small-stream flash
plywood, plastic sheeting, plastic advisories. Do not use food floods often occur in less than
garbage bags, lumber and shovels that has come in contact with one hour.
on hand. floodwaters.  Tropical cyclones pose significant
 Be aware of streams, canals and risks well inland due to
areas that are known to flood so Flooding Facts freshwater flooding.
you or your evacuation routes
 Six inches of water will reach the  Flood damages are not covered
are not cut off.
bottom of most passenger cars under homeowners’ insurance
Stay away from downed power
 and can cause loss of control and policies. Consider purchasing
lines and never drive into moving possible stalling. flood insurance.
water.
A foot of water will cause many

vehicles to float.

Florida’s Severe Weather Awareness Guide 27


Kids Get a Plan
X J Q A W K E W H P D N I W J
L P T X A X K N B S F Z I W W
X A H I T O R N A D O L I A H
E C G C E H A R H C D I O D R
S F U F R E E Z E F I M E O E
M R O T S L A C I P O R T G D
Q W R I P C U R R E N T R O N
C Q D S O A E C P X A U J U U
L D P F U F C H U X S W S Q H
L I G H T N I N G I B U N H T
DROUGHT FLOOD FREEZE
HAIL HURRICANE LIGHTNING
RAIN RIP CURRENT SURGE
THUNDER TORNADO TROPICAL STORM
WATERSPOUT WILDFIRE WIND

Where can you go to find out about Florida's weather hazards?


GLI NTHI NG
ILH A
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DOLOF
IR KS
SPEA RW UOTT
THEA
Scramble Let ters: _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
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28 Florida Division of Emergency Management


First Aid Kit All-Hazards
Weather Radio

Canned Food & Snacks Batteries

Can Opener
Important Papers

Flashlight
Water

Here are the most important items you should have in your disaster
supply kit. Build your complete kit at www.KidsGetAPlan.com!

Florida’s Severe Weather Awareness Week 29


TEMPERATURES Florida’s Extreme Temperatures
it. We call this process the Sea Breeze.
Sea Breezes can drop temperatures by 10
to 15 degrees on some days and can also
cause thunderstorms to develop. During
the winter, very cold air sometimes trav-
els over the water and moves in the gen-
eral direction of the state. As this cold air
moves over the water, it is warmed from
the water below, so even though the air
temperature feels cold, it would actually
be much colder if the water wasn’t there
to warm it.
  If we have all of this water surrounding us,
why does it sometimes get very hot or very
cold in Florida? There are a couple of things
that can interfere with the normal flow
of the wind that moderates our tempera-
tures. Sometimes an area of high pressure
will form right over a portion of the state.
The high pressure stops the heated air
near the ground from rising. This will also

W
e think of Florida as be- weather patterns form, portions of the stop the sea breeze from bringing cooler
ing a hot state, but in state can become either very hot in the air in from the water. In order for clouds
fact, most of the time our warm season or very cold during the cold to form, the air needs to rise. If the air is
temperatures are quite season. sinking, then clouds are unable to form.
moderate. The water that surrounds the   How do the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Without clouds to shade the ground, the
state usually keeps our temperatures Mexico moderate our temperatures? The temperature becomes even hotter.
from becoming either too hot or too cold. sun heats the ground and as the ground   When hot temperatures combine with
However, because of the size and location becomes warmer, the air over the hot high humidity, our bodies feel like it is
of the state, weather patterns sometimes ground begins to rise. As the warmed hotter than it really is since the increased
develop that do not allow the water to air rises, air off of the cooler waters that moisture in the air limits our body’s abil-
moderate the temperatures. When these surround the state comes in to replace ity to cool off through sweating. This is
called the Heat Index. When the heat
index reaches higher than 105 degrees
Temperature (◦F) F, conditions can become dangerous for
both people and animals. A person can
experience heat cramps, heat exhaustion
Relative Humidity (%)

DID YOU KNOW?


*Provided by the National Weather Service

The hottest it has ever been in


Florida was over the Big Bend
in a town called Monticello,
located just east of Tallahas-
see, where the temperature
hit 109° F on June 29, 1931.
Most of the time the hottest
temperatures will be found in
the northern and central por-
tions of the state and it is very
rare for Southeast Florida to
exceed 100° F.

30 Florida Division of Emergency Management


or heatstroke that may result in death if heat from our skin that our bodies gen-
WITH PROLONGED
exposed to these conditions for a long erate. This is called the Wind Chill. Like
period of time. When the combination of EXPOSURE AND/OR high heat, very cold temperatures can also
heat and humidity causes the heat index PHYSICAL ACTIVITY endanger humans. The National Weather
to reach dangerous levels, the National EXTREME DANGER Service will issue Wind Chill Advisories/
Weather service will issue Heat Adviso- Watches/Warnings, Freeze Watches/
ries and Warnings. Heat stroke or sunstroke Warnings, Hard Freeze Watches/Warn-
highly likely ings, and Frost Advisories if cold weather
DANGER will threaten an area.
PLAY IT SAFE   Sometimes, when the air moves off the
Sunstroke, muscle cramps, ocean in the cold season, it is so cold that
Hot Temperatures Tips and/or heat exhaustion likely the water cannot heat it up. However,
● Wear lightweight, light-colored cloth- EXTREME CAUTION the air can still pick up moisture from
ing. Light colors will help reflect the water which can lead to snow flurries
sunlight. Sunstroke, muscle cramps, near the coast. This happened in Daytona
● Limit outdoor activities in the after- and/or heat exhaustion Beach in 2008, Miami in 1977 and Fort
noon. The hottest part of the day is possible Lauderdale in January 2010. The northern
between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. Stay in CAUTION portions of the state can even have ac-
air-conditioned places to reduce your cumulating snow. The official record for
exposure to the heat. Fatigue snowfall in the state occurred on March
●  Drink plenty of water. Stay away from 6th, 1954 when four inches of snow fell
highly sugared drinks and alcoholic region and makes the winds come off the near Milton. Before there were official re-
beverages. land to our north and avoid the water that cords, there were reports of up to eight
●  Check on the elderly, young children, surrounds the state. This can bring very inches of snow in Baker County from a
and pets as they are especially sensi- cold air, with temperatures in the 20s, all 1797 storm.
tive to high heat. the way down the peninsula into South
Florida. These freezing temperatures can
● Apply sunscreen before exposure to
kill crops, plants and even fish. An ex- DID YOU KNOW?
the sun. Sunscreen should be at least
SPF 15. Also wear sunglasses, a hat or ample of this occurred last winter in 2010 In extreme cases, the tem-
carry and umbrella to further protect when we had a series of very cold days. It peratures can go down to the
yourself. was so cold, ice formed on the Intracoast- single digits. The record low
al Waterway near Jacksonville and there temperature in Florida is -2°
  Although many people head south was about one-half inch of snow on the F, which happened in Tallahas-
to escape the cold temperatures in the ground in Marianna in the Florida Panhan- see on February 13, 1899.
winter, it isn’t always warmer in Florida. dle. Hundred of millions of dollars worth
Numerous severe cold outbreaks have of crops were lost and many fish farmers
affected the state. During the cold sea- lost a significant crop of freshwater fish. Cold Temperatures Tips
son, cold high pressure from Canada or   Strong winds can also make the air feel
colder than it really is by removing the ● Stay indoors and use safe heating
the Northern Plains move south into the
sources. Do not use fuel-burning de-
vices, like grills, indoors. Also, make
sure to use space heaters according
to instructions and keep away from
flammable materials like furniture,
clothes and drapery.
● Dress in layers and wear a hat and
gloves. Try to stay dry and out of the
wind.
●  The elderly, young children and pets
are especially sensitive to cold tem-
peratures. Check on them regularly.
●  Bring in small animals or provide ad-
equate shelter with plenty of food.

By Al Sandrik,
NWS Jacksonville

*Provided by the National Weather Service

Florida’s Severe Weather Awareness Guide 31


WILDFIRES
Wildfires can destroy large areas of forest and are a constant
threat to the state of Florida. Photo credit: NOAA.

W
ildfires are a perennial see over 4,600 fires burn nearly 110,000 of November. This is a particularly low
threat to Florida. While acres of land. While lightning is respon- amount of wildfire activity compared to
wildfires can start at any sible for many fires, most wildfires are the past 30 years. Part of this reason is an
time of the year, the state started by humans – the most common El Niño event that was occurring during
sees a peak of activity during the early part causes of human-started fires are arson the early part of 2010. An El Niño event
of the year – beginning in January and con- and escaped burns of debris. occurs when there is warmer than normal
tinuing until the onset of more frequent water in the Central and Eastern tropical
rain during the wet season, usually in early In 2010, Florida saw over 2,500 wildfires Pacific Ocean. Winter El Niño events
to mid-June. A typical year in Florida will burn nearly 28,000 acres through the end are frequently associated with cooler and
wetter conditions in Florida, which helps
to suppress wildfire activity.

In contrast to El Niño events, there are


also events known as La Niña, in which
the water in the same region of the tropi-
cal Pacific is abnormally cool. La Niña
events are generally associated with
warmer and drier winters in Florida. An
increased amount of wildfire activity is of-
ten the result of La Niña events. In fact,
Florida’s most severe bouts with wildfires
occurred during La Niña events or during
a quick transition to La Niña.

32 Florida Division of Emergency Management


La Niña conditions in the tropical Pacific
began developing in the summer of 2010,
and this is forecast to continue through
at least early 2011 and likely even lon-
ger. Additionally, there are some parts
of Florida that are already seeing drought
conditions, enhancing the threat. These
two factors could combine to create an
enhanced threat of wildfires in 2011. For
more information about wildfires, you
can visit the Florida Division of Forestry’s
website at www.fl-dof.com, and www.
firewise.org for information on how to
help keep your home safer from wildfires.

create a more accurate idea of the risk for signifies ‘Low’ fire danger, 2 indicates
wildfires that will need suppression, the ‘Moderate’ danger, 3 indicates ‘High’ fire
Division of Forestry is using a new scale danger, 4 is ‘Very High’ danger, and 5 sig-
that incorporates both weather factors nifies an ‘Extreme’ risk of wildfires. This
and the characteristics of the vegetation scale will provide a more accurate and
that would burn in a wildfire, called the accessible picture of wildfire risk. The
Fire Danger Index (FDI). It’s important FDI is shown in two ways: the Observed
to note that this index describes the risk FDI, which uses weather observations
of having wildfires that need suppression, from the current day to calculate risk,
Florida Fire Danger Index and does not indicate the potential for fire and the Forecast FDI, which uses weather
spread. It is possible to have days which forecasts from the National Weather Ser-
For several years, Florida has used the may not have a particularly high FDI, but vice to help calculate wildfire risk for the
Keetch-Byram Drought Index as a way to have weather conditions exist that if a fire next day. To see the Fire Danger Index
help gauge the potential risk for wildfires. were to start, it would be difficult to con- and to learn more about it, please visit
The scale goes from 0-800, and is created trol. http://fdi.fl-dof.com.
using high temperature and rainfall data.
However, using only long-term weather The FDI is calculated for each of Florida’s By Sean Luchs,
information does not always paint the 67 counties, and only goes from 1 to 5. Division of Forestry
fullest picture of existing fire danger. To Each rating has its own descriptor: 1

WILDFIRE SAFETY ACTIONS


 Create a defensible or safe space of at least 30 feet around your home that is
lean, clean and green.
 To help emergency vehicles gain access, make sure driveway are at least
12 feet wide with at least 15 feet of overhead clearance and are easily
identifiable.
 Keep gutters, eaves and yards clear of debris, sticks, pine needles and leaves.
 Trim all the branches that hang over the house or are lower than 6 to 10 feet
from the ground.
 Plant fire-resistant plants such as dogwood, sycamore, magnolia, oaks, red
maple, wild azalea, sweet gum, black cherry and ferns instead of pines and
palmettos.
 Use fire-resistant construction materials where possible and fire-resistant
barriers when attaching flammable materials, such as wood decks or fences,
to the house.
 Follow local regulations for the burning or disposal of yard waste and other
materials.
 Develop a personal disaster plan, including a plan for evacuating your home.
Be sure to identify at least two routes out of your neighborhood or subdivision.

Florida’s Severe Weather Awareness Week 33


Notes

34 Florida Division of Emergency Management


Don’t forget to

Florida’s Severe Weather Awareness Guide 35


2011 Severe Weather Awareness Guide Sponsors

For more information, visit these websites:


Florida Division of Federal Alliance For Safe Homes
Emergency Management www.flash.org
www.FloridaDisaster.org
ERE WEATHER
Hurricane Hunter website for SEV
Kids Get A Plan Teachers and Students
www.kidsgetaplan.com www.aoc.noaa.gov/Teachers_and_students.html

National Weather Service National Wildland/Urban


www.weather.gov Interface Fire Program
www.firewise.org AWA
American Red Cross RENESS WEEK
www.redcross.org Florida Climate Center
www.coaps.fsu.edu/climate_center/index.shtml
Florida Department of Education Florida Severe Weather
www.fldoe.org Climate Prediction Center
www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov Awareness Week
Just Read Florida!
www.justreadflorida.com Federal Emergency Management Agency January 31-February 4, 2011
www.fema.gov
National Hurricane Center
www.nhc.noaa.gov

JetStream Online School for Weather Don’t Forget to Get A Plan For Your Family and Business
www.srh.noaa.gov/jetstream/index.htm

Storm Prediction Center


www.spc.noaa.gov

Florida Division of Forestry


www.fl-dof.com