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The key is this - don't think for one minute that you will just hop in the car and drive to Atlanta. It won't work. Even making it to Orlando is very difficult with the volume of cars on the road. Think about how much traffic is on these roads on a normal day. You stand a good chance of winding up riding out the storm stuck in the road. I got a terrifed cellphone call from a friend who was stuck in a light truck with hurricane Charley actively trying to flip the vehicle over and I don't ever want to be in a similar situation. Plan to evacuate someplace close that you actually have a chance to make it to, and know that you will not be able to totally avoid the wind. Just get away from the coastal storm surge and you'll probably be fine.
If you really want to be no where near a looming storm, catch a flight out of town before they close the airport, don't attempt to drive.
Tampa does face hurricanes and will continue to face hurricanes. Hurricanes are natural cycle of life in a tropical ecosystem as a seasonal challenge here in Florida. The peninsula gets struck often and some are large dangerous systems effecting millions of residents each year.
Florida has a population of 18 million residents. The 2004-05 hurricane season effected 5 million residents directly and caused billions of dollars in damages. That’s almost 1/3rd of the population in Florida. 46% of all coastal residents lived in a community damaged by hurricanes in the last three years. 110 recorded hurricanes have hit Florida with 35 of those major Cat 3-5 storm events. Tampa bay has not been immune to these severe weather events. (Note the tracking charts attached)
The old salts and lucky individuals who claim that these tropical storms are no big deal – “my house wasn’t touched” - is not conclusive evidence of limited risk. The research indicates risk avoidance to be sporadic and inconclusive. A study of “two houses” in same local indicates that one may sustain extreme damage while the other escapes damage can be a complicated equation and may have more to do with wind resistant construction features, simplified terrain exposure and luck associated to mini “down bursts”. Results within Florida’s “wind zones” are based on eight primary factors and eleven secondary inputs from four different groups of measures.
There are many illustrated examples of this uncertainty. Pensacola Florida was devastated by Ivan in 2004 and took a direct hit by hurricane Erin in 1995. If you research the photos you’ll note the complete devastation from wind and surge. Keep in mind wind alone can and does destroy homes. Hurricane Andrew plowed across the state in 1992 with 150+ mph winds as a category 4 storm. Yes, we have improved our wind mitigation construction techniques but very few homes meet these standards in Florida and fewer yet have upgraded improvements or retrofits for added wind resistance.
According to a Harvard study conducted in 2007, 46% live in a coastal community damaged by hurricane in the last three years. 22% left home because of hurricane in the last three years. 35% had problems getting gas to evacuate. 20% didn't have enough money. 19% suffered from heat exhaustion. 14% didn't have enough fresh drinkable water. 12% didn’t have enough food supplies. 10% didn't have the perceptions drugs and medicines needed. 8% had problems caring for the elderly /disabled / chronically ill. 5% had medical care and could not get it. 5% were injured. And for the gun enthusiasts out there - 3% were threatened by violence.
Its unfortunate that so many are complacent and cavalier about living in a tropical paradise prone to hurricane strikes that cover an entire database from 1851-2005 and summarizes an increased occurrence over the past 10 years. You may debate if we are in a cycle of increased storm strength but the fact may not be denied that every Florida resident may experience the ultimate impact of surviving one of our severe weather events known as the Florida hurricane.
The thin black lines are "known" severe tropical storms or hurricane tracks over Tampa bay area since late 1800's to date.
Less we forget those close calls!
My hurricane supply essentials.
Last edited by preparedness expert; 07-05-2010 at 11:00 AM..
Its unfortunate that so many are complacent and cavalier about living in a tropical paradise prone to hurricane strikes
That newspaper headline is, unfortunately, part of the problem. That was the headline when we woke up that morning, yet Charley never touched Tampa. I knew several people who evacced to Orlando, fought the traffic for many frustrating hours to get there, drove from hotel to hotel looking for a room, only to wind up riding out the eyewall in their hotel room there. If they had stayed put they would have been completely unaffected, but in trying to flee they wound up putting themselves directly in the path of the storm. Hurricanes are essentially unpredictable, and so Floridians have to gamble on every warning, to guess whether it's a real threat or just another boy crying wolf. The road situation does not allow for every potentially threatened resident to evacuate from every storm, and the forecast models are not exactly reliable. All the news stations show you the "spaghetti plot" of the various computer models, and you can see how often they are in very poor agreement and how even when the models are in good agreement, the storms have a mind of their own. No storm illustrates this phenomenon better than hurricane Charley. What you see as complacency is probably more like pragmatism for most people.
Everyone got Charlie wrong - it was a fast moving storm with huge damage potential.
Common sense tells us to run from these big storms not the media, but you make a good point........read this...
“Hurricane Charley was the third named storm, the second hurricane, and the second major hurricane of the 2004 Atlantic hurricane season. Charlie at its peak intensity it attained 150 mph (240 km/h) winds, making it a strong Category 4 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale. The storm made landfall in southwestern Florida at maximum strength, thus making it the strongest hurricane to hit the United States since Hurricane Andrew struck Florida twelve years before, in 1992.
At its peak intensity of 150 mph (240 km/h), Hurricane Charley struck the northern tip of Captiva Island and the southern tip of North Captiva Island, causing severe damage in both areas. Charley, the strongest hurricane to hit southwest Florida since Hurricane Donna in 1960, then continued to produce severe damage as it made landfall on the peninsula near Port Charlotte. The hurricane continued to the north by northeast along the Peace River corridor, devastating the small cities of Punta Gorda, Cleveland, Fort Ogden, Nocatee, Arcadia, Zolfo Springs,Sebring, and Wauchula. Zolfo Springs was isolated for nearly two days as masses of large trees, power pole, power lines, transformers, and debris filled the streets. Wauchula sustained gusts to 147 mph, buildings in the downtown areas caved in onto Main Street. Ultimately, the storm passing through East Orlando still carrying winds gusting up to 106 mph (171 km/h).
The rapid strengthening of Charley in the eastern Gulf of Mexico caught many by surprise. Around five hours before its Florida landfall, Charley was a strong Category 2 hurricane predicted to strengthen its strongest winds to 115 mph (185 km/h) upon its landfall in the Tampa-Saint Petersburg area. About two hours before landfall, the National Hurricane Center issued a special advisory, notifying the public that Charley had become a 145 mph (230 km/h) Category 4 hurricane, with a predicted landfall location in the Port Charlotte area. As a result of this change in forecast, numerous people in the Charlotte County area were unprepared for the hurricane, despite the fact that the new track prediction was well within the previous forecast's margin of error. National Hurricane Center forecasting intern Robbie Berg publicly blamed the media for misleading residents into believing that a Tampa landfall was inevitable. In addition, he also stated that residents of Port Charlotte had ample warning, as a hurricane warning had been issued for the landfall area 23 hours before, and a hurricane watch had existed for 35 hours.
Damage in the state totaled to over $13 billion (2004 USD). Charley, initially expected to hit further north in Tampa, caught many Floridians off-guard due to a sudden change in the storm's track as it approached the state. Throughout the United States, Charley caused 10 deaths and $15.4 billion in damage (2004 USD), making Charley the second costliest hurricane in United States history at the time (it has since dropped to 5th). Charley was a very small, very fast moving storm, otherwise damage would have been much more severe.”
Last edited by preparedness expert; 07-07-2010 at 01:18 AM..
We live in Boynton Beach, about 10 miles south of West Palm Beach.
We have lived in South Florida for 26 years, and have gone through the hurricane scenario too many times to recollect.
For those of you in the Tampa Bay area----I know you havent experienced one for many years, but please dont become complacent or nonchalant if one appears to heading your way. We have gone through too many of these storms and believe they are potent, frightening, and devasting to everyone.
The storms are catastrophic and the aftermath can leave areas without power for up to a month. Please make preparations when the forecasters show a hurricane making a bee-line for your area. To hear the winds and water pounding at your home the entire evening is horrifying. Dont mock these storms and take the warnings seriously.
I know that we have often gone through the drill and have had the storms reverse course or bypass. That being said, the preparations we did make helped us keep our sanity and health during the hurricanes we have been through.
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