Thursday, December 31, 2009

ARCTIC COLD FRONT TO BRING BELOW-FREEZING TEMPERATURES COLD WEATHER ACROSS FLORIDA NEXT WEEK

State officials are urging residents and visitors throughout Florida to prepare for temperatures near or below the freezing mark next week. Temperatures could reach the lower 20s away from the coast across northern Florida and near the freezing mark as far south as Lake Okeechobee.

“An arctic cold front will move through the state this weekend and result in much cooler morning temperatures. The colder airmass behind this front will produce a widespread freeze across much of Florida this weekend as well as many mornings next week,” said Meteorologist Amy Godsey. “Residents and visitors across the state should prepare for an unusually long period of freezing or subfreezing temperatures each morning that could harm vegetation, pipes, animals and people.”

Durations of freezing temperatures will range from 5-7 hours inland and 2-4 hours near the coast. Freeze Warnings could be issued for a large portion of Florida, with Hard Freeze Warnings likely for much of North Florida through the middle of next week.

Residents and visitors should remember the "Five P's" of cold weather safety. The “5 P’s” are: Protecting People, Protecting Plants, Protecting Pets, Protecting Exposed Pipes, and Practicing Fire Safety.

The following actions are important safety measures:
Stay indoors and use safe heating sources.
Be aware of the fire danger from space heaters and candles, keep such devices away from all flammable materials such as curtains and furniture, and install recommended smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
Indoors: Do not use charcoal or other fuel-burning devices, such as grills that produce carbon monoxide. Install at least one carbon monoxide detector per floor in your home.
Outdoors: Stay dry and in wind-protected areas.
Wear multiple layers of loose-fitting, warm clothing.
Drink non-alcoholic fluids.
Shelter or bring inside animals, especially pets.
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SBA APPROVES DISASTER LOAN PROGRAMS FOR BROWARD COUNTY

Governor Charlie Crist and Florida emergency management officials today announced that the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has approved disaster loan funds for Broward County residents and businesses in response to the severe storms and flooding that occurred on December 17-18, 2009.

“We are grateful to Administrator Mills, Director Skaggs and our federal partners at the SBA for granting this needed disaster assistance to South Floridians,” said Governor Crist. “The SBA Disaster Assistance Loan Program is an excellent resource for homeowners, renters and businesses as they work to recover.”

"Disasters do not always occur within single jurisdictional boundaries,” said David Halstead, interim deputy director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management. “Under the declaration, residents and businesses in Broward and the contiguous counties of Miami-Dade, Collier, Palm Beach and Hendry are eligible to apply for loans if they suffered physical property damage or economic injury.”

The SBA offers loans of up to $200,000 to homeowners to repair or replace damaged or destroyed real estate. Homeowners and renters are eligible for loans of up to $40,000 to repair or replace damaged or destroyed personal property. Interest rates on the loans can be as low as 2.562 percent for homeowners and renters, to 4 percent for businesses. Loan amounts and terms are set by the SBA and are based on each applicant’s financial condition.

“We are thankful to have received this declaration,” said Broward County Emergency Management Director, Chuck Lanza. “The SBA’s rapid response will give affected residents and businesses in South Florida access to low-interest loan programs to begin the rebuilding process.”

Loan applications for physical damages can be filed until the close of business on March 1, 2010. Loan applications for economic injury can be filed until the close of business on September 29, 2010.

Small Business Administration customer service representatives will be on hand at the following location at the times listed below:

Broward County

Town of Pembroke Park – City Hall
3150 SW 52nd Avenue
Pembroke Park, Florida 33023

Opens: Tuesday, January 5 at 8:30 a.m.
Open: Tuesday, January 5 – Thursday, January 14 from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (Closed Saturday, January 9 and Sunday, January 10)
Closing: Thursday, January 14 at the close of business

Individuals and businesses unable to come to the loan center in person may obtain information and loan applications by calling the SBA’s Customer Service Center at 1-800-659-2955 (1-800-877-8339 for the hearing impaired), Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. EDT.

Affected business owners and residents can visit the SBA Web site at www.sba.gov/services/disasterassistance or send an e-mail to disastercustomerservice@sba.gov for more information. Florida residents affected by the severe storms and flooding may apply for disaster loans from SBA’s secure Web site at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela/. Completed applications should be returned to the Center or mailed to: U.S. Small Business Administration, Processing and Disbursement Center, 14925 Kingsport Road, Fort Worth, TX 76155.

For more information on the Florida Division of Emergency Management and to GET A PLAN!, please visit: www.FloridaDisaster.org. All students, teachers and parents can find educational information and free downloadable materials at: www.KidsGetAPlan.com. And for the latest flash reports go to: www.YouTube.com/FloridaSERT.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Colder Temperatures Expected Across Northern Florida This Weekend

North Floridians should remember the "Five P's" of cold weather safety.

State officials are urging residents and visitors in Northern Florida to prepare for temperatures near or below the freezing mark across much of the Florida Panhandle, Big Bend and Nature Coast. Temperatures could reach as low as the mid to upper 20s away from the coast.

“Residents and visitors to the state are encouraged to prepare for this anticipated long stretch of cold winter temperatures,” said Meteorologist Amy Godsey. “Even colder nighttime temperatures are expected early next week.”

Durations of freezing temperatures will range from 5-7 hours inland and 2-4 hours near the coast. Freeze Warnings will likely be issued for a large portion of North Florida. Freezing temperatures are not expected across Central and South Florida, but some inland locations could experience low temperatures in the mid-30s each night. In addition, the combination of colder temperatures and north winds could produce cold wind chill values in the low and mid 30s as far south as Lake Okeechobee each morning. Wind Chill Advisories may be issued throughout the weekend for some of these areas.

North Floridians should remember the "Five P's" of cold weather safety. The “5 P’s” are: Protecting People, Protecting Plants, Protecting Pets, Protecting Exposed Pipes, and Practicing Fire Safety.

The following actions are important safety measures:
Stay indoors and use safe heating sources.
Be aware of the fire danger from space heaters and candles, keep such devices away from all flammable materials such as curtains and furniture, and install recommended smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
Indoors: Do not use charcoal or other fuel-burning devices, such as grills that produce carbon monoxide. Install at least one carbon monoxide detector per floor in your home.
Outdoors: Stay dry and in wind-protected areas.
Wear multiple layers of loose-fitting, warm clothing.
Drink plenty of non-alcoholic fluids.

For more information on the Florida Division of Emergency Management and to GET A PLAN!, please visit: www.FloridaDisaster.org. All students, teachers and parents can find educational information and free downloadable materials at: www.KidsGetAPlan.com. And for the latest situation and flash reports go to: www.YouTube.com/FloridaSERT.
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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

HIGH RISK OF RIP CURRENTS TODAY ALONG THE SPACE AND TREASURE COASTS

DANGEROUS RIP CURRENTS EXPECTED TODAY IN
VOLUSIA, BREVARD, INDIAN RIVER, SAINT LUCIE AND MARTIN COUNTIES

Florida Division of Emergency Management officials are urging beachgoers in Volusia, Brevard, Indian River, St. Lucie and Martin counties to use caution today as a high risk of dangerous rip currents is expected along the Atlantic coast. When red flags are flying beachgoers need to be aware that swimming can be dangerous.

“Rip currents can be life threatening to anyone entering the water,” Acting State Meteorologist Amy Godsey said. “We strongly urge beachgoers to check the rip current outlook and remember the warning flag signs before going into the water. Beachgoers should stay out of the water when red flags are flying.”

A rip current is a narrow, powerful current of water running perpendicular to the beach, out into the ocean. These currents may extend 200 to 2,500 feet (61 to 762 meters) lengthwise, but they are typically less than 30 feet (9 meters) wide. Rip currents can often move at more than 5 miles per hour (8 kilometers per hour) or faster.

Rip currents are responsible for about 150 deaths every year in the United States. In Florida, they kill more people annually than thunderstorms, hurricanes and tornadoes combined. They are the number-one concern for beach lifeguards. According to the United States Lifesaving Association, 80 percent of surf beach rescues are attributed to rip currents.

Beachgoers should take the following precautionary and preparedness actions:

· Swim at guarded beaches and heed to the advice of beach patrol.
· If caught in the seaward pull of a rip current do not attempt to move directly toward shore. Instead move sideways across the rip currents until the pull eases.
· If a lifeguard is not available, have someone call 9-1-1.
· Throw the rip current victim something that floats: a lifejacket, a cooler or inflatable ball.
· Yell instructions on how to escape.
· Never go into the water alone, and if you aren’t a strong swimmer, stick to shallow waters (although shallow waters can be dangerous too for weak swimmers).
· Only swim in areas where there is a lifeguard or strong swimmers on the beach who can keep a safe eye on you.

Beachgoers who want to learn more about rip currents can visit www.ripcurrents.noaa.gov. For more information on the Florida Division of Emergency Management and to GET A PLAN!, please visit: www.FloridaDisaster.org. For the latest weekly situation and flash reports go to: www.YouTube.com/FloridaSERT or join our blog at: http://flsertinfo.blogspot.com/.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Freeze Watches and Warnings Tonight for Northern Florida

A reinforcing cold front will send a shot of cold and dry air into the state. Afternoon temperatures will struggle to reach the low to mid 50s across Northwest Florida, with upper 50s to low 60s expected across Northeast Florida and northern Central Florida. High temperatures in the mid 60s to mid 70s are forecast for much of Central and South Florida today.

Breezy northwest winds will surge into the state by this afternoon. Sustained winds of 10-20mph can be expected, with occasional gusts to 25-35mph. As a result, a Lake Wind Advisory has been issued for Northeast Florida from late this morning through this afternoon.

The cold air tonight will allow temperatures to reach or dip below the freezing mark across much of North Florida. Freeze Watches and Warnings are in effect across the Florida Panhandle, Big Bend, Nature Coast, and much of Northeast Florida, where temperatures in the upper 20s to low 30s are expected tonight. Durations of freezing temperatures will range from 5-7 hours inland and 2-4 hours near the coast. In addition, areas of frost will be possible. Though freezing temperatures are not expected across Central and South Florida, the combination of cool temperatures and northwest winds of 5-15mph will produce cold wind chill values ranging from the low 30s to low 40s near and north of Lake Okeechobee and mid 40s to low 50s across the remainder of mainland South Florida tonight. Wind Chill Advisories may be issued later today for some of these areas.

Ocean swells will result in a moderate to high risk of rip currents along the Florida East Coast today, mainly between Nassau and Palm Beach counties, despite offshore northwest winds today. The highest risk for rip currents will be along East Central Florida beaches. These northwesterly winds will result in a moderate risk of rip currents at West Central Florida beaches between Pinellas and Sarasota counties today.

A River Flood Warning remains in effect for flooding on the Escambia River, Apalachicola River, Aucilla River and Choctawhatchee River. All rivers have crested and are in recession. Click here to view the latest river levels.

To access the latest watches, warnings, and advisories from the National Weather Service for your county, please click here.
Weather Images Courtesy of Weather Services International




Wednesday, December 23, 2009

GOVERNOR CRIST REQUESTS SBA DECLARATION FOR BROWARD COUNTY FLOOD SURVIVORS

Governor Charlie Crist today requested a disaster declaration from the Small Business Administration (SBA) to aid Broward County residents impacted by the recent severe weather and flooding rains that occurred on December 17 and 18, 2009.

“A disaster declaration from the SBA will help our fellow South Floridians repair their homes and businesses following last week’s flooding,” said Governor Crist. “We anticipate our request will result in welcome assistance for those affected.”

Preliminary damage assessments were conducted jointly by Broward County officials, the Florida Division of Emergency Management, the SBA, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The assessments indicate that 189 homes in Broward County sustained minor to major damage.

A declaration from the SBA will provide affected residents with low interest loans to repair or replace real estate, personal property, machinery, equipment, inventory and business assets that were damaged or destroyed in the disaster.

To be eligible for a disaster declaration from the SBA, 25 homes or 25 businesses (or combination thereof) must have sustained uninsured losses of 40 percent or more of the estimated fair replacement values of the damaged property. The three types of loans available from SBA include Home Disaster Loans, Business Physical Disaster Loans, and Economic Injury Disaster Loans. For more information on the SBA please go to: www.sba.gov.

For more information on the Florida Division of Emergency Management and to GET A PLAN!, please visit: www.FloridaDisaster.org. All students, teachers and parents can find educational information and free downloadable materials at: www.KidsGetAPlan.com. And for the latest situation and flash reports go to: www.YouTube.com/FloridaSERT .
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HIGH RISK OF DANGEROUS RIP CURRENTS EXPECTED TODAY IN PALM BEACH, BROWARD AND MIAMI-DADE COUNTIES

-Threat moves to the Panhandle Beaches on Thursday-

Florida Division of Emergency Management officials are urging beachgoers in Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties to use caution today as a high risk of dangerous rip currents is expected along the Gold Coast. The rip current threat is expected to shift north to the Florida Panhandle beaches from Franklin County westward on Thursday.

“We want residents and visitors to safely enjoy our beaches during the holidays,” Acting State Meteorologist Amy Godsey said. “We urge beachgoers to check the rip current outlook, swim on guarded beaches and stay out of the water when red flags are flying.”

Rip currents are responsible for about 150 deaths every year in the United States. In Florida, they kill more people annually than thunderstorms, hurricanes and tornadoes combined. They are the number-one concern for beach lifeguards. According to the United States Lifesaving Association, 80 percent of surf beach rescues are attributed to rip currents.

When at the beach:
Whenever possible, swim at a lifeguard-protected beach.
Never swim alone.
Learn how to swim in the surf. It's not the same as swimming in a pool or lake.
Be cautious at all times, especially when swimming at unguarded beaches. If in doubt, don’t go out.
Obey all instructions and orders from lifeguards. Lifeguards are trained to identify potential hazards. Ask a lifeguard about the conditions before entering the water. This is part of their job.
Stay at least 100 feet away from piers and jetties. Permanent rip currents often exist along side these structures.
Consider using polarized sunglasses when at the beach. They will help you to spot signatures of rip currents by cutting down glare and reflected sunlight off the ocean’s surface.
Pay especially close attention to children and elderly when at the beach. Even in shallow water, wave action can cause loss of footing.


If caught in a rip current:
Remain calm to conserve energy and think clearly.
Never fight against the current.
Think of it like a treadmill that cannot be turned off, which you need to step to the side of.
Swim out of the current in a direction following the shoreline. When out of the current, swim at an angle--away from the current--towards shore.
If you are unable to swim out of the rip current, float or calmly tread water. When out of the current, swim towards shore.
If you are still unable to reach shore, draw attention to yourself by waving your arm and yelling for help.

Beachgoers who want to learn more about rip currents can visit www.ripcurrents.noaa.gov. For more information on the Florida Division of Emergency Management and to GET A PLAN!, please visit: www.FloridaDisaster.org. For the latest weekly situation and flash reports go to: www.YouTube.com/FloridaSERT or join our blog at: http://flsertinfo.blogspot.com/ .

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

EMERGENCY MANAGERS OFFER LAST MINUTE GIFT SUGGESTIONS


~Practical gifts, disaster kits and safety tips for the holiday season~

Officials at the Florida Division of Emergency Management, in the spirit of the holiday season, would like to offer some last minute gift suggestions and safety tips that are ideal for the “person who has everything,” as well as every home.

“Every home can use a weather alert radio,” said David Halstead, interim deputy director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management. “This is a very practical gift that can be invaluable to residents when severe weather approaches.”

In addition to weather radios; flashlights, batteries, first-aid kits, smoke and carbon-monoxide detectors and fire extinguishers are essential supply items that everyone can use. If your home kit is in order, perhaps it’s time to build a second safety kit for your car or boat. These items are widely available and reasonably priced to fit any budget.

December is an excellent time to recycle items from your personal disaster supply kits. Although most canned food items last for quite awhile, check the expiration date and consider donating non-expired items to your local food bank or charity. Bottled water should not be stored for prolonged periods but can be used to water plants and Christmas trees.

Interim Deputy Director Halstead also offers a few holiday safety tips; “Please remember to turn off your tree lights, space-heating devices, and fully extinguish candles and fireplaces when not at home. Too many times we’ve heard of tragic events where a family returns from shopping to find their home in ashes. We want all Floridians to have a safe holiday season.”

For more information on the Florida Division of Emergency Management and to GET A PLAN!, please visit: http://www.floridadisaster.org/. For the latest weekly situation and flash reports go to: www.YouTube.com/FloridaSERT or join our blog at: http://flsertinfo.blogspot.com/ .

Monday, December 21, 2009

Weather Update for Monday, December 21




High pressure will move into North Florida today from the gulf and cause another chilly day across the state. Moisture in the upper levels of the Caribbean is causing thick high level clouds to funnel into Central and South Florida which will act to keep the regions even cooler than previously forecast. Chances of rain are extremely limited statewide today and severe weather is not expected.


Tonight, temperatures will once again drop below the freezing point across the Florida Big Bend, Northeast Florida, and northern parts of West-Central Florida and another widespread freeze is expected. A Freeze Watch is in effect for these areas tonight and the Florida Big Bend will likely be under a Freeze Warning as well. Any sensitive vegetation should be brought inside in these regions.


High temperatures today will reach the upper 50s across North Florida, low 60s across Central Florida, and mid to upper 60s across South Florida. Overnight lows will drop to the upper 30s across the western panhandle, upper 20s across the Florida Big Bend, low 30s across Northeast Florida, low 40s across Central Florida, and upper 40s to low 50s across South Florida.
A red flag warning is in effect for panhandle, Florida Big Bend, and West-Central FL due to expected long durations of low relative humidity.


River flooding continues across Northwest Florida, but only one river location is currently above minor flood stage. Conditions are improving and river levels are falling, but river flood warnings continue for several counties. River locations that are still flooding are: Escambia River at Century, Choctawhatchee River at Caryville and Bruce, Apalachicola River at Blountstown and Woodruff Dam, and the Aucilla River at Lamont.Please remember to never drive through flooded roadways as most flood-related deaths occur within automobiles.


ALWAYS TURN AROUND, DON'T DROWN. Click here to view river status .
There is a moderate rip current risk for East-Central Florida beaches from 10:30 AM to 5:30 PM EST this afternoon. Be sure to check local conditions when arriving to beaches in this region today.



To access the latest watches, warnings, and advisories from the National Weather Service for your county, please click here.

STATE AND FEDERAL TEAMS CONTINUE FLOOD DAMAGE ASSESSMENTS IN BROWARD COUNTY TODAY

Two state of Florida and federal recovery teams from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the U.S. Small Business Administration will continue a joint preliminary damage assessment today of individual homes and property damage in the cities of Hallandale Beach, Hollywood and Pembroke Park, located in Broward County, that were impacted by the recent severe weather and flooding rains that occurred on December 17 and 18, 2009.

The joint teams, including officials from Broward County and local municipalities, are back in the field for a second day to catalog the levels of flood damage and estimate the dollar value of the losses. Those numbers will then be transmitted to the Division of Emergency Management in Tallahassee for review to determine what, if any, federal disaster assistance programs would be applicable to this event.

“Our goal today is to complete an accurate accounting of the total damages from last week’s storm,” said David Halstead, interim deputy director with the Florida Division of Emergency Management. “We are encouraging Broward County residents that suffered a loss due to the flooding to contact their local officials so teams can survey the damage.”

The State Watch Office in Tallahassee continues to monitor conditions with Recovery and Operations staff and to assist with any additional requests from county emergency management partners.

For more information on the Florida Division of Emergency Management and to GET A PLAN!, please visit: www.FloridaDisaster.org. All students, teachers and parents can find educational information and free downloadable materials at: www.KidsGetAPlan.com. And for the latest situation and flash reports go to: www.YouTube.com/FloridaSERT .

Saturday, December 19, 2009

SOUTH FLORIDIANS URGED TO PREPARE FOR COLD WEATHER

State emergency management and fire officials are urging South Florida residents to check their heating appliances and smoke detectors in preparation for colder temperatures that will begin in the region tonight.

“Overnight low temperatures are forecast to reach the lower 40s to lower 50s beginning tonight and continuing through Monday night across metropolitan and coastal areas of South Florida,” said Acting State Meteorologist Amy Godsey. “To ward off the chill, many residents may be turning on heaters for the first time this fall and we are urging them to do so safely.”

Residents should check the operation of their smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors, making sure to replace the old batteries. Electrical extension cords need to be in proper condition and correct rating for the heater. Persons should not overload wall plugs and individual circuits with multiple appliances.

Some important safety tips to keep in mind from the State Fire Marshal:

*Have gas heaters and other gas appliances checked for leaks or damage.
*Check and clean air conditioners for any dust that could spark a fire when turned on for the first time.
*Keep space heaters at least three feet away from furniture, walls and drapes. Never use space heaters in sleeping areas.
*Do not burn anything in the fireplace other than firewood.
*Burn candles in a sturdy holder and extinguish all flame when leaving a room or at bedtime.
*Keep children and pets away from any flame or fire source.
*Review and practice your family’s fire escape plan.

State and federal recovery teams will meet with Broward County officials Sunday to conduct preliminary damage assessments in the areas impacted by heavy rain earlier this week.

The State Watch Office in Tallahassee continues to monitor conditions with Operations staff and to assist with any requests from county emergency management partners.

For more information on the Florida Division of Emergency Management and to GET A PLAN!, please visit: www.FloridaDisaster.org. All students, teachers and parents can find educational information and free downloadable materials at: www.KidsGetAPlan.com. And for the latest situation and flash reports go to: www.YouTube.com/FloridaSERT .

Friday, December 18, 2009

Flash Report for Friday, December 18

FLORIDIANS URGED TO STAY ALERT AS COLD FRONT BRINGS THREAT OF TORNADOES, HEAVY RAIN, FLOODING TODAY

State and local emergency management officials are urging residents and visitors to stay alert for severe weather and changing conditions as a strong cold front moves across the state today. A Tornado Watch and urban flood warnings are in effect for South Florida while most rivers in the Panhandle and Big Bend regions remain near or in flood stage.

“This is a very vigorous storm system and residents need to stay on alert for severe weather going into this busy weekend. Make sure to turn your Weather Alert Radio on and be prepared to act if conditions warrant.” said Meteorologist Amy Godsey.

A Tornado Watch is in effect until 1pm EST for Broward, Charlotte, Collier, Glades, Hendry, Lee, Martin, Miami-Dade, Monroe, Okeechobee, Palm Beach and St. Lucie counties.

In the northern half of the state, a Flash Flood Watch is in effect for Escambia, Santa Rosa and Okaloosa counties through noon on Friday. An additional 1 to 2 inches of rainfall is forecast to occur statewide over the next 24 hours which would likely cause additional flooding concerns due to saturated soil conditions.

“With numerous flood watches and warning posted, it is important for travelers to ‘Turn Around, Don’t Drown’ and remain safe by observing any road closures”, added Godsey.

River Flood Warnings also remain in effect across the Florida Panhandle and Big Bend. Impacts will be similar to what occurred earlier this year during the March and April floods.

Area rivers at risk of flooding are: the Apalachicola River, Aucilla River, Blackwater River, Choctawhatchee River, Escambia River, Perdido River, Shoal River and Yellow River.

The State Watch Office in Tallahassee continues to monitor conditions with Meteorology and Operations staff and to assist with any requests from county emergency management partners.

For more information on the Florida Division of Emergency Management and to GET A PLAN!, please visit: www.FloridaDisaster.org. All students, teachers and parents can find educational information and free downloadable materials at: www.KidsGetAPlan.com. And for the latest situation and flash reports go to: www.YouTube.com/FloridaSERT .

TORNADO WATCH POSTED FOR SOUTH FLORIDA


FLORIDA COUNTIES INCLUDED ARE:


BROWARD, CHARLOTTE, COLLIER, GLADES, HENDRY, LEE, MARTIN, MIAMI-DADE MONROE, OKEECHOBEE, PALM BEACH and ST. LUCIE.


THE NWS STORM PREDICTION CENTER HAS ISSUED A TORNADO WATCH FOR PORTIONS OF SOUTH FLORIDA AND THE FLORIDA KEYS AND COASTAL WATERS EFFECTIVE THIS FRIDAY MORNING AND AFTERNOON FROM 820 AM UNTIL 100 PM EST.


TORNADOES, HAIL TO 0.5 INCH IN DIAMETER, THUNDERSTORM WIND GUSTS TO 70 MPH AND DANGEROUS LIGHTNING ARE POSSIBLE IN THESE AREAS.


A TORNADO WATCH MEANS CONDITIONS ARE FAVORABLE FOR TORNADOES AND SEVERE THUNDERSTORMS IN AND CLOSE TO THE WATCH AREA.


PERSONS IN THESE AREAS SHOULD BE ON THE LOOKOUT FOR THREATENING WEATHER CONDITIONS AND LISTEN FOR LATER STATEMENTS AND POSSIBLE WARNINGS.


Thursday, December 17, 2009

PANHANDLE RESIDENTS URGED TO STAY ALERT AS STORM SYSTEM BRINGS ADDITIONAL RAIN, FLOODING INTO THE WEEKEND

State and local emergency management officials are urging residents and visitors to stay alert and exercise caution as another Gulf storm system nears the state, bringing additional rain and flooding to soaked areas and rivers of the Panhandle and Big Bend regions today and Friday.

“We want residents to stay on guard going into the weekend for changing conditions and be prepared to put their disaster plans into action if faced with rising waters,” said Meteorologist Amy Godsey.

A Flash Flood Watch is in effect for Escambia, Santa Rosa and Okaloosa counties through Friday morning. An additional 2 to 3 inches of rainfall is forecast to occur over the next 48 hours which would likely cause additional flooding concerns due to saturated soil conditions.

River Flood Warnings also remain in effect across the Florida Panhandle and Big Bend. With current forecasts, the Choctawhatchee River near Bruce may experience the most significant amount of flooding and may rise into major flood stage early Saturday and continue to rise throughout the weekend. Impacts will be similar to what occurred earlier this year during the March and April floods.

Area rivers that are at risk of flooding are: Apalachicola River, Aucilla River, Choctawhatchee River, Escambia River, Perdido River and the Yellow River.

“Holiday travelers should plan ahead and check their destination status if near area rivers this weekend,” added Godsey. “Please remember to ‘Turn Around, Don’t Drown’ and remain safe by observing any road closures.”

The State Watch Office in Tallahassee continues to monitor conditions with Meteorology and Operations staff and to assist with any requests from county emergency management partners.

Severe Weather Outlook for Thursday, December 17

River Flood Warnings in Effect Across Much of the Florida Panhandle and Big Bend Today

A stalled frontal boundary over the southern Florida Peninsula will lift northward today as a low pressure system in the western Gulf of Mexico moves east across the northern Gulf of Mexico today and then over northern Florida on Friday. Scattered showers developing across the state today will become more widespread this evening and overnight as the low approaches the state and its expanding area of rainfall overspreads the region. A few thunderstorms will also be possible, mainly after midnight.

While the potential for severe weather will be greatest on Friday, a few strong or severe storms may occur late tonight over portions of the central and southern Peninsula. The main concerns in these storms will be strong gusty winds and isolated waterspouts or tornadoes.

Rainfall may be heavy at times statewide tonight. Rainfall totals could approach 1 inch across the Peninsula, but rainfall totals of 1-3 inches appear likely for a large portion of the Florida Panhandle and Big Bend, as well as areas north of the state. This potential for heavy rainfall will occur over areas that have already received significant rainfall totals earlier this week. This additional rainfall over very saturated soils will quickly produce additional rises on rivers as well as urban flooding. A Flash Flood Watch has been issued for Escambia, Santa Rosa and Okaloosa counties through Friday morning.

River Flood Warnings remain prevalent across the Florida Panhandle. Currently, six rivers directly affecting Northwest Florida are currently in or near flood stage. One river is expected to rise into moderate to major flood stage. With current forecasts, the Choctawhatchee River near Bruce may experience the most significant amount of flooding and may rise into major flood stage early Saturday and continue to rise throughout the weekend.

Rivers that are at risk of flooding are: Perdido River at Barrineau Park, Escambia River near Century, Big Escambia Creek at Flomaton, Yellow River at Milligan, Choctawhatchee River near Caryville and Bruce, Apalachicola River near Blountstown and Woodruff Dam, and the Aucilla River at Lamont. Please remember to never drive through flooded roadways as most flood-related deaths occur within automobiles. ALWAYS TURN AROUND, DON'T DROWN.
Click here to view river elevations.

To access the latest watches, warnings, and advisories from the National Weather Service for your county, please click here.

Weather Images Courtesy of Weather Services International

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

FLORIDA EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT ENCOURAGES KIDS TO PARTICIPATE IN 2010 SEVERE WEATHER AWARENESS WEEK, POSTER AND VIDEO CONTESTS

~Deadlines for submission of Poster and Video Contests extended~

State emergency management officials today reminded all Floridians that Florida Severe Weather Awareness Week is scheduled for January 24 - 30, 2010. This year, the annual public awareness campaign includes a poster and video public service announcement (PSA) contest which was announced in late November. The deadlines to submit entries for these contests have been extended into the second week of January 2010.

"The goal of the week is to educate our residents and visitors about the natural hazards they may face and provide important information to help keep them safe," said Interim Deputy Director David Halstead of the Florida Division of Emergency Management. "It is a team effort and we are proud to have many great sponsors who are committed to this week of outreach and awareness."

Today, the Division announced that once again they are teaming up with the American Red Cross to sponsor the annual poster contest. This continuing partnership reaffirms the commitment of both organizations to ensure that our residents are prepared for any disaster that may occur.

“We are excited to once again to partner with the Division of Emergency Management on the annual poster contest,” said Florida Disaster Officer for the American Red Cross Karen Hagan. “These types of outreach efforts to get our youth involved in disaster preparedness activities are an important step in building a culture of preparedness in Florida.”

Other contest sponsors announced today include the Florida Association of Broadcasters, Midland Radio, the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH), I.D.E.A.S. (Integrity Arts and Technology, Inc.) and the Florida Emergency Preparedness Association (FEPA).

Annual Poster Contest

Fourth and fifth graders in all 67 school districts are invited to participate in the statewide poster contest. All entries must be postmarked on or before MONDAY, JANUARY 11th, 2010 and must arrive at the Florida Division of Emergency Management in Tallahassee no later than WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 13th, 2010. Winners will be notified by phone. The top winners' artwork is scheduled to be displayed in the State Emergency Operations Center during the first full week of February 2010. Prizes will include tickets for the winner and their family to Walt Disney World, cash, weather radios and many other exciting things to be announced soon. For complete contest rules go to www.FloridaDisaster.org/SWAW2010.


New Video PSA Contest for 2010

Middle and high school students in grades 6-8 and 9-12 are invited to produce a 30-second public service announcement (PSA) incorporating a safety or preparedness message about one of the following topics: Tornadoes, Rip Currents or Using NOAA Weather Radios.

Final digital videos must be mastered as a DVD for submission to the Division. All entries must be postmarked on or before MONDAY, JANUARY 11, 2010 and must arrive at the Florida Division of Emergency Management in Tallahassee no later than WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 13, 2010. For complete contest rules and topic information, go to www.FloridaDisaster.org/SWAW2010.

There will be one individual or group (limit 4 people per group) winner chosen for both middle school and high school-level videos. The winning video(s) will be professionally re-produced for broadcast use by the Division of Emergency Management in their statewide public awareness campaign. A production team will come to the winner(s)’ hometown and will spend a full day shooting the winning PSA. The winner(s) will spend the day acting as the Director and will be honored at a rally in their hometown. Additional prizes will include tickets for the winner and their family to Walt Disney World, cash, weather radios and many other exciting things to be announced soon. The Division anticipates announcing another major sponsor and more prize information soon.

Winners will be announced on January 23, 2010, at a kick-off event for Severe Weather Awareness Week in Orlando. Winners unable to attend this event will be mailed their additional prizes.

These contests are part of an annual public awareness campaign that also includes the statewide Tornado Drill to be conducted by the National Weather Service Offices in Florida at 10:10 a.m. Eastern Time (9:10 a.m. Central Time), on Wednesday, January 27, 2010.

For more information on Florida’s 2010 Severe Weather Awareness Week go to www.FloridaDisaster.org/SWAW2010.

Flash Report for Wednesday, December 16

River Flood Warnings are prevalent across the Florida Big Bend and western Panhandle and pose the greatest weather-related threat for the state today. Currently, 12 rivers directly affecting Northwest Florida are currently in, or forecasted to go into flood stage within the next 48 hours. 3 of these rivers are expected to rise into moderate or major flood stage.

With current forecasts, the Choctawhatchee River near Bruce may experience the most significant amount of flooding and may rise into major flood stage early Saturday and continue to rise throughout the weekend. Rivers that are at risk of flooding are: Perdido River at Barrineau Park, Escambia River near Century, Big Escambia Creek at Flomaton, Blackwater River at Baker, Yellow River at Milligan, Choctawhatchee River near Caryville, Choctawhatchee River near Bruce, Apalachicola River near Blountstown, Apalachicola River at Woodruff Dam, and the Aucilla River at Lamont.

The St. Marks River near Newport is forecasted to be within an inch of flood stage for the rest of the week as well. Please remember to never drive through flooded roadways as most flood-related deaths occur within automobiles. ALWAYS TURN AROUND, DON'T DROWN.

Click here to view river status .

At the coast, there is a moderate rip current risk across Northeast Florida Beaches today due to onshore winds gusting up to 20mph and elevated offshore swells up to 8ft. Elevated threats exist for East-Central Florida beaches as well.

To access the latest watches, warnings, and advisories from the National Weather Service for your county, please click here.

Weather Images Courtesy of Weather Services International

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

RESIDENTS REMINDED TO AVOID FLOODED AREAS, RIVERS IN THE PANHANDLE TODAY

State and local emergency management officials are reminding residents and visitors to exercise caution as a series of weather systems are combining to cause widespread scattered showers and thunderstorms across the western Panhandle and Florida Big Bend regions today.

“Residents and visitors in the area need to be aware of changing conditions and remember to ‘Turn Around, Don’t Drown’ if faced with a flooded roadway,” said Meteorologist Amy Godsey.

A Flash Flood Watch is in effect through this afternoon for Escambia, Santa Rosa, and Okaloosa counties due to forecasted rains up to 3 inches in addition to 4-8 inches previously received earlier this week.

Across northwestern Florida, a River Flood Warning is in effect for the Apalachicola River at Blountstown, Aucilla River at Lamont, Blackwater River near Baker, Choctawhatchee River near Caryville and Bruce, Escambia River near Century, Perdido River near Barrineau Park, Shoal River near Crestview, and St. Marks River near Newport due to the heavy rainfall over the past 24 hours.

“Make sure to plan ahead and check your destination if travelling near area rivers,” added Godsey. “Stay safe by respecting the power of water and heeding any local road closures due to flooding.”

The State Watch Office in Tallahassee continues to monitor conditions with Meteorology and Operations staff and assist with any requests from county partners.

For more information on the Florida Division of Emergency Management and to GET A PLAN!, please visit: http://www.floridadisaster.org/. All students, teachers and parents can find educational information and free downloadable materials at: http://www.kidsgetaplan.com/. And for the latest situation and flash reports go to: www.YouTube.com/FloridaSERT .
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Monday, December 14, 2009

Governor Crist Celebrates New Mike Fasano Regional Hurricane Shelter

Governor Charlie Crist today participated in the ribbon-cutting ceremony to commemorate the opening of the new Mike Fasano Regional Hurricane Shelter. The Governor joined Senator Mike Fasano, Representatives Will Weatherford and John Legg, Pasco County commissioners, and state and local emergency management officials for the ceremony.

“This new shelter facility will greatly enhance the capabilities of the county during disasters and other times of need, as well as continue to foster a culture of preparedness which is so important here in Florida,” said Governor Crist. “It is fitting that this regional shelter is named after Senator Mike Fasano, a great Floridian who exemplifies public service and has an unwavering commitment to the people of Florida.”

"I am both thrilled and honored to be a part of this state of the art facility. It gives me great peace of mind to know that in case of a hurricane, the residents of West Pasco will have a world class shelter to keep them safe throughout the storm," said Senator Mike Fasano.

The new 37,263 square foot facility is designed and constructed to meet the new International Code Council storm shelter standards. It can withstand hurricane wind gusts up to 190 miles per hour and has the capacity to house an estimated 1,000 persons for a minimum of 72 hours of self-sustained continuous operation. Additionally, this facility is scheduled to house a county health department clinic and a premier health clinic, a county effort to increase access to health care.

David Halstead, interim deputy director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management, added, “This shelter and clinic is a testament to the coordinated efforts of state, local and federal entities to ensure that residents are served and protected during a disaster.”

The project was made possible by a $6.3 million grant provided by the State of Florida. In addition, $979,722 in Federal Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) funds were used to complete the facility for a total state-federal investment of $7,368,451. The Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) is a federally-funded program, administered by the State of Florida to help prevent future losses of life and property damage due to disasters. HMGP projects strengthen public facilities and equipment, schools, roadways, public utility systems, water control facilities and recreational areas in communities throughout Florida.

The Governor emphasized the importance of disaster preparedness year round. State emergency managers advise that the current El Niño pattern may trigger severe weather in Florida this winter and upcoming spring. The Governor noted that deadly tornado outbreaks struck during the overnight and early morning hours during El Niño events in 1982-83, 1997-98, and 2006-07. He recalled the tornadoes that struck Lake County in 2007 and killed 21 people, making it the deadliest tornado outbreak in the United States that year and the second deadliest in Florida’s history.

For more information on the Florida Division of Emergency Management and to GET A PLAN! please visit www.FloridaDisaster.org. All students, teachers and parents can find educational information and free downloadable materials at www.KidsGetAPlan.com. And for the latest flash reports, go to www.YouTube.com/FloridaSERT.

Weather Update for Monday, December 14

A warm front just north of Florida will cause unusually high temperatures statewide for this time of year. The warm boundary will begin to erode overnight as a strong cold front begins to move into the western panhandle tomorrow morning. A series of upper level disturbances will move into the panhandle and combine with very high moist air mass and cause widespread scattered showers and thunderstorms across the western Panhandle and Florida Big Bend throughout the day and dense fog across North Florida.

A Flash Flood Watch is in effect from Monday afternoon through Tuesday afternoon for Escambia, Santa Rosa, and Okaloosa counties due to forecasted rains up to 3 inches in addition to 4-8 inches previously received.

The River Flood Warning is in effect for the Apalachicola River at Blountstown, St. Marks River near Newport, the Aucilla River at Lamont, the Choctawhatchee River near Newton, Escambia River near Century due to the heavy rainfall over the past 24 hours. Click here to view river status .

Scattered showers are expected across Northwest Florida today and rainfall accumulations may reach up to 1 inch across the western panhandle and 0.10 inches across the Florida Big Bend. Widespread severe weather is not expected but there is a chance that some individual storms may become strong and contain damaging wind gusts, flooding rains, and isolated tornadoes in this area. Skies will clear up nicely across Central and South Florida, but North Florida will stay overcast for the entire day. Rains across Northwest Florida will continue overnight and increase tomorrow, spreading to Northeast and Central Florida as the cold front approaches.

Temperatures will be above average today and will reach the mid 70s across the western panhandle, upper 70s across the Florida Big Bend, low 80s across Northeast and Central Florida, and mid 80s across South Florida. Overnight lows will resemble more fall and summerlike patterns, dropping to the mid 60s across Northwest Florida, low 60s across Northeast Florida, mid to upper 60s across Central Florida and low 70s across South Florida.

A continued east swell will result in a moderate rip current risk across East-Central Florida beaches. A moderate rip current risk will exist for panhandle beaches tomorrow due to the incoming cold front. Only experienced swimmers are encouraged to enter the surf in these conditions.

To access the latest watches, warnings, and advisories from the National Weather Service for your county, please click here.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Weekend Weather Update

A wet weekend is forecast statewide. A cold front stalled along the Florida Keys and southern Gulf of Mexico will remain in place today, but plenty of cloud cover north of the front will result in a cloudy and cool day for much of the state, with afternoon temperatures only reaching the upper 40s to mid 50s across North Florida. Highs in the mid 60s to mid 70s are expected across Central Florida, but a warmer airmass under the clouds will result in highs reaching the upper 70s to low 80s across South Florida. A few showers will be possible across portions of the state today as moisture increases across the region, but any shower activity during the day should be light and scattered.

Before the wet weather arrives, a dry and cooler airmass will result in critically low humidity values across much of Northwest Florida this afternoon and Red Flag Warnings are in effect from Leon and Wakulla counties westward to Walton County. Further eastward, Red Flag Warnings are in effect for inland western Suwannee Valley areas, including Madison, Hamilton, Suwannee, Columbia and Gilchrist counties this afternoon.

Rainfall intensity and coverage will increase overnight and into Saturday as a low pressure area in the southwestern Gulf of Mexico moves northeast towards the central and eastern Gulf Coast. This will lift the front over the Florida Straits northward during the day and will result in high rain chances statewide. Periods of heavy rainfall will be possible across North and Central Florida, but the heaviest rainfall amounts are forecast to be along the I-10 corridor. Residents and visitors in the area should use extra caution when driving and remember to 'Turn Around, Don't Drown' when approaching a flooded roadway. Heavy rainfall will begin to taper Saturday night, but unsettled weather conditions into Sunday will keep a chance for scattered showers and thunderstorms. The highest chance for rainfall Sunday will be across the Florida Panhandle and Big Bend.

A River Flood Warning remains in effect for the Apalachicola River near Blountstown and the Choctawhatchee River near Bruce. The Choctawhatchee River at Bruce has finally fallen out of moderate flood stage into minor flood stage and is continuing to recede. The Apalachicola River at Blountstown is also receding. However, heavy rainfall this weekend could reverse these trends. Residents living along rivers with elevated levels should be alert to rising river conditions this weekend.

Strong onshore winds will result in a moderate risk for rip currents along the Southeast Florida coast today. Beachgoers should check with beach patrol before entering the water and swim near lifeguard stations.

To access the latest watches, warnings, and advisories from the National Weather Service for your county, please click here.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Weekly Report for the Third Week of December 2009

Meteorologist Amy Godsey offers timely tips on updating your disaster supply kit for the winter months in Florida.

Weather Outlook for Thursday, December 10

A cold front will move across Central and South Florida today as moisture in its wake produces a line of showers and thunderstorms throughout the day. Widespread severe weather is not expected, but some storms within the squall line may become strong and produce lightning, gusty winds, brief torrential downpours or a weak isolated tornado. Rainfall accumulations will not exceed 0.25 inches across Central Florida and only 0.10 inches are expected across Northeast and South Florida.

Behind the cold front, a very dry and cold arctic air mass will drop into the Southeastern US and move across North Florida and will keep temperatures well below normal today and tonight. Today, high temperatures will reach the upper 50s across Northwest Florida, mid 60s across Northeast Florida, low 70s across Central Florida, and low to upper 80s across South Florida. Overnight lows will fall to the mid to upper 30s across North Florida, upper 40s to low 50s across Central Florida, and mid to upper 60s across South Florida.

In addition to dropping temperatures, humidity across North Florida will plummet as the cold front moves further south and may increase fire danger for the region. As a result, a Fire Weather Watch and Red Flag Warning is in effect this afternoon for the panhandle and Florida Big Bend.

A River Flood Warning remains in effect for the Apalachicola River near Blountstown and the Choctawhatchee River near Bruce. Moderate flooding is occurring near Bruce but is expected to drop into minor flood stage today. Minor flooding is occurring near Blountstown and is expected to continue for several more days.

There is a moderate risk of rip currents for West Central Florida today due to onshore wind flow and offshore wave heights up to 7ft. Only experienced swimmers are encouraged to enter the water in these conditions.

To access the latest watches, warnings, and advisories from the National Weather Service for your county, please click here.

Weather Images Courtesy of Weather Services International

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

FLORIDA TO RECEIVE $100 MILLION IN FEDERAL HOMELAND SECURITY GRANTS

The state of Florida is scheduled to receive no less than $100 million in Fiscal Year (FY) 2010 federal grants from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), officials from the Florida Division of Emergency Management announced today. The federal preparedness grants in 13 program areas are designed to enhance the ability of states, territories, and urban areas to prevent, protect against, respond to and recover from terrorist attacks and other disasters.

“Florida is better prepared today to handle all hazards, both natural and man-made, because of the ongoing partnership and unified efforts between local, state and the federal government,” said Ruben D. Almaguer, interim director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management. “We are grateful to Secretary Napolitano and our DHS colleagues for their commitment to sustaining the state’s domestic security programs.”

Federal preparedness grant programs may fund a variety of activities including planning, organization, equipment purchases, training and exercises. For FY 2010 Florida is set to receive:

State Homeland Security Program (SHSP) — $33,011,575 to build capabilities at the state and local levels to implement the state homeland security goals and objectives. The 9/11 Act requires the state to dedicate 25 percent of SHSP funds to law enforcement terrorism prevention-oriented planning, organization, training, exercise and equipment activities. ($9,213,444)

Urban Areas Security Initiative (UASI) — $35,367,406 to enhance regional preparedness by strengthening capabilities in five high-threat, urban areas. The 9/11 Act requires the state to dedicate 25 percent of UASI funds to law enforcement terrorism prevention-oriented activities.

Miami: $11,039,650
Ft Lauderdale: $6,067,168
Orlando: $5,090,188
Tampa: $7,815,050
Jacksonville: $5,355,350

· Metropolitan Medical Response System Program (MMRS) — $2,221,933 to enhance and sustain regional mass casualty incident response and preparedness capabilities. The grant is divided evenly among 7 jurisdictions: $317,419 for Miami, Hialeah, Tampa, St. Petersburg, Orlando, Jacksonville and Ft. Lauderdale.

· Citizen Corps Program (CCP) — $538,587 to engage Floridians in community preparedness, planning, mitigation, response and recovery activities.

· Emergency Management Performance Grants (EMPG) Program —$14,226,919 to assist state and local governments in enhancing and sustaining all-hazards emergency management capabilities.

· Interoperable Emergency Communications Grant Program (IECGP) —$2,243,500 to assist governments in carrying out Statewide Communication Interoperability Plans and improve interoperable emergency communications used to respond to natural disasters and acts of terrorism.

· Buffer Zone Protection Program (BZPP) — $2,400,000 to increase preparedness capabilities for safeguarding critical infrastructure sites and key resources, such as chemical facilities and nuclear power plants.

· Driver’s License Security Grant Program (DLSGP) — $1,605,120 to help the state improve security of driver’s licenses and identification cards in order to prevent terrorism, reduce fraud and enhance the reliability and accuracy of personal identification documents.

· Port Security Grant Program (PSGP) — $12,280,905 to help protect port infrastructure from terrorism, enhance maritime domain awareness and strengthen risk management capabilities. Conduct training exercises and implement the Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC).


Jacksonville: $3,137,877
Port Everglades: $2,221,586
Miami: $1,718,156
Tampa/ Manatee: $1,692,578
Port Canaveral: $1,510,215
Panama City: $1,000,761
Pensacola: $1,000,732


Additionally, Florida will be eligible to compete nationally for over $133 Million in funds for emergency operations centers, non-profit organization security and transit security grants in FY 2010.

Including this funding, Florida has received over $1.4 Billon in local planning, organization, equipment, training, and exercises for state and local governments since September 11, 2001. The total award for the State of Florida for FY09 was $73,769,337.

For more information on federal DHS grant programs, visit http://www.dhs.gov/. For information of Florida’s Domestic Security programs go to http://www.fdle.state.fl.us/.or http://www.floridadisaster.org/.

HIGH RISK OF RIP CURRENTS EXPECTED TODAY FROM ESCAMBIA TO FRANKLIN COUNTIES

Florida Division of Emergency Management officials are urging beachgoers from Escambia County east to Franklin County to use caution and heed local advisories today as a high risk of dangerous rip currents is expected along Panhandle and Big Bend beaches. When red flags are flying beachgoers need to be aware that swimming in the Gulf of Mexico can be dangerous.

“Beachgoers and surfers should be very cautious along Panhandle and Big Bend beaches today,” Deputy State Meteorologist Amy Godsey said. “It is important to follow the advice of local officials and avoid entering the water where warnings are posted.”

A rip current is a powerful current of water running perpendicular to the beach, out into the ocean. Rip currents can extend outwards up to one-half mile and move at speeds of more than 5 miles per hour. They are dangerous because they can pull unprepared swimmers away from shore and into deeper waters.

Rip currents are responsible for about 150 deaths every year in the United States. According to the United States Lifesaving Association, 80 percent of surf beach rescues are attributed to rip currents.

Beachgoers should take the following precautionary and preparedness actions:

· Swim at guarded beaches and heed to the advice of beach patrol.
· If caught in the seaward pull of a rip current do not attempt to move directly toward shore. Instead move sideways across the rip currents until the pull eases.
· If a lifeguard is not available, have someone call 9-1-1.
· Throw the rip current victim something that floats: a lifejacket, a cooler or inflatable ball.
· Yell instructions on how to escape.
· Never go into the water alone, and if you aren’t a strong swimmer, stick to shallow waters (though shallow waters can also be dangerous for weak swimmers).
· Only swim in areas with a lifeguard or strong swimmers on the beach who can keep a safe eye on you.

Beachgoers who want to learn more about rip currents can visit www.ripcurrents.noaa.gov. For more information on the Florida Division of Emergency Management and to GET A PLAN!, please visit: www.FloridaDisaster.org. For the latest weekly situation and flash reports go to: www.YouTube.com/FloridaSERT or join our blog at: http://flsertinfo.blogspot.com/.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

RESIDENTS URGED TO BE PREPARED FOR SEVERE WEATHER AS COLD FRONT MOVES INTO THE STATE

State emergency management officials are urging residents and visitors in the Florida Panhandle and Big Bend regions to be on the watch for severe weather tonight into Wednesday as an advancing cold front moves into the state.

“There is a possibly of damaging winds and isolated tornadoes during the overnight period as the front passes and residents should monitor this system and be prepared to act if conditions warrant,” said Deputy Meteorologist Amy Godsey.

While rainfall amounts are not expected to exceed one inch, this system will continue across North Florida on Wednesday and travelers along Interstate 10 should be on alert for changing road conditions.

“Now is a good time to review your plans and check that your Weather Radio has fresh batteries, is turned on and set to alert,” added Godsey.

NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards (NWR) is a nationwide network of radio stations broadcasting continuous weather information directly from the nearest National Weather Service office. NWR broadcasts official Weather Service warnings, watches, forecasts and other hazard information 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

For more information on the Florida Division of Emergency Management and to GET A PLAN!, please visit: http://www.floridadisaster.org/. All students, teachers and parents can find educational information and free downloadable materials at: http://www.kidsgetaplan.com/. And for the latest situation and flash reports go to: www.YouTube.com/FloridaSERT .

Weather Outlook for Tuesday, December 8

A warm frontal boundary over the central Florida Peninsula and northern Gulf of Mexico will lift north today over the Gulf Coast and North Florida. As the front lifts north, south winds will result in a warm and muggy airmass across the area which could produce some isolated areas of showers today over portions of the state. Showers will become more numerous across the Florida Panhandle and Big Bend this afternoon and through tonight as a cold frontal system moves east into the Mississippi Valley. Rainfall values should not exceed 1 inch.

Thunderstorms will also be possible tonight and a few could become strong or severe. The Storm Prediction Center has placed the Florida Panhandle, west of Jackson and Bay counties, in a slight risk area for severe weather. However, strong storms may be possible across all of North Florida. The greatest threat will be isolated strong gusty winds in excess of 60mph, but small hail will also be possible west of Tallahassee along with the threat for an isolated tornado.
Light winds combined with increasing moisture will support areas of fog across Central Florida and Southwest Florida areas both Tuesday and Wednesday morning. Residents and visitors to these areas are encouraged to drive with extra caution in locations with reduced visibility due to fog.

Temperatures this afternoon will rise into the upper 60s to upper 70s across North Florida areas today, with lower 80s forecast for Central and South Florida areas. Tonight, well above normal temperatures in the low 60s areto low 70s are expected across much of the state, except across far southern South Florida and the Florida Keys where lows in the mid to upper 70s are forecast.
Increasing onshore winds will result in a moderate risk of rip currents today along Florida Panhandle beaches.

A River Flood Warning continues for the Choctawhatchee River near Bruce and Caryville and the Apalachicola River near Blountstown. Only minor flooding is occurring at this time for the Apalachicola River and the Choctawhatchee River at Caryville, but moderate flooding is occurring along the Choctawhatchee River downstream near Bruce.
Weather Images Courtesy of Weather Services International





Monday, December 7, 2009

Weather Outlook for Monday, December 7

A weak warm frontal boundary over the northern Bahamas will move slowly north today and Tuesday. A few isolated showers could move onshore over portions of Central Florida during the day today. A few showers may also be possible today and tonight across the far western Florida Panhandle as a cold frontal system moves east into the Mississippi Valley. Otherwise, high pressure extending southwest into the state from the Mid-Atlantic coast will result in dry conditions across much of the state today and tonight.

Light winds combined with increasing moisture may support areas of fog across much of the Florida Peninsula both Monday and Tuesday morning. Residents and visitors to these areas are encouraged to drive with extra caution in locations with reduced visibility due to fog.

Temperatures this afternoon will rise into the mid 60s to mid 70s across North Florida areas today, with upper 70s to low 80s forecast for Central and South Florida areas. Tonight, well above normal lows in the low 50s to low 60s are expected across North Florida. Lows in the 60s are also expected across mainland Central and South Florida, with lower 70s forecast for the Florida Keys tonight.

Ocean swells and onshore wind will result in a moderate risk of rip currents today along the Southeast Florida coast today.

A River Flood Warning continues for the Choctawhatchee River near Bruce and Caryville, the Apalachicola River near Blountstown and the St Marks River near Newport. Only minor flooding is forecasted at this time for all rivers.

A strong storm system will move east this week, bringing another cold front into the Southeastern U.S. on Wednesday. The cold front is expected to weaken as it moves across the Florida Panhandle, but there is a chance that some storms could become severe and contain gusty winds in excess of 60mph and possibly an isolated tornado. The Storm Prediction Center has placed the western Florida Panhandle in a slight risk area for severe weather on Wednesday.

Strong storms will also be possible across North and Central Florida areas as the front moves through. Floridians are encouraged to stay informed on this developing weather system.

Friday, December 4, 2009

FLOOD WATCH IN EFFECT FOR WEST CENTRAL FLORIDA THROUGH SATURDAY

An area of low pressure is expected to develop over the central Gulf of Mexico and move east towards the Florida Peninsula today and then across the central Peninsula early Saturday. Ahead of this system, a large rain shield will spread northeast across much of the state today.

Showers are expected to become heavier and more numerous later today and overnight as the system gets closer to the state and pulls a stalled frontal boundary currently over South Florida northward.

Though severe weather is not anticipated for today, the warm front lifting north tonight and a cold front moving through the area on Saturday could some stronger storms capable of producing frequent lightning, gusty winds and possibly a tornado.

A Flood Watch is in effect for much of West Central Florida through Saturday afternoon and minor flooding of streets, low-lying areas and local rivers and streams is possible statewide over the next 24-36 hours. Residents living in flood prone areas should take action to protect property.

Remember, turn around, don't drown if faced with a flooded roadway.

To access the latest watches, warnings, and advisories from the National Weather Service for your county, please click here.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Weekly Report

Meteorologist Amy Godsey previews the weather systems that will impact the state going into the second week of December 2009.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Gulf County Flooding

Flooding on U.S. Highway 98 in Gulf County on December 2, 2009.
Photos taken by Gulf County Emergency Management.

RESIDENTS URGED TO REMAIN VIGILANT AS STORM SYSTEM TRACKS ACROSS THE STATE

State emergency management officials are urging residents to remain vigilant and closely follow the storm system that is sweeping across the state today. A Tornado Watch is in effect the Florida Big Bend region until 5 p.m. EST today. A Tornado Watch means conditions are favorable for tornadoes and severe weather in and close to the watch area.

“Heavy rain, coastal flooding and the threat of tornadoes will be with us today as the system pushes east,” said Acting State Meteorologist Amy Godsey. “Residents and visitors are urged to heed all local warnings and seek safe shelter as the storms pass.”

Coastal flood warnings and flash flood watches are in effect along the Florida Gulf Coast from the Panhandle south to Tampa Bay today. Some areas could receive as much as 2 to 4 inches of rain during the frontal passage.

There is a moderate to high risk of rip currents across all North Florida beaches and across western Central Florida beaches today. Swimming is not recommended in these areas due to rough surf and hazardous marine conditions.

The State EOC in Tallahassee remains activated at a Level 2 or Partial Activation today to monitor the storm and assist with any requests from county emergency management officials. The state has pre-positioned emergency coordinators across the warning area to assist with the response.

Residents in low-lying areas or in flood-prone areas along the coast should heed any evacuation orders from local officials. An all-hazards weather radio remains the most effective way to receive timely and official emergency notifications about emerging weather hazards in your area. If you encounter a flooded roadway, remember: Turn Around, Don’t Drown.

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Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Severe Weather Flash Report for Tuesday, December 1

COASTAL FLOOD WARNINGS AND FLASH FLOOD WATCHES POSTED AS STORM SYSTEM MOVES INTO THE STATE

Numerous coastal flood warnings and flash flood watches have been posted for a large area of the northern Florida Gulf Coast from the Panhandle to the Suwannee River, with coastal flood watches in effect south to Tampa Bay. These warnings and watches are in advance of a very strong low pressure system that is currently developing in the western Gulf of Mexico and is forecast to move east towards the Florida Panhandle today and tonight. State emergency management officials are urging residents to closely monitor this system and be prepared to act if conditions warrant.

“This system could present a multi-hazard weather threat that will include heavy rain, tornadoes, coastal flooding and marine hazards across North Florida and the northeastern Gulf of Mexico,” said Acting State Meteorologist Amy Godsey. “Though much of the weather today will be confined to Northwest Florida, a few showers and thunderstorms may develop over the Florida Peninsula north of I-4 and residents need to stay aware of changing conditions into Wednesday.”

The squall line has the potential to produce heavy rain, strong winds and tornadoes as the front moves east. Some areas could receive as much as 2 to 4 inches of rain during the frontal passage with higher totals of 6 to 8 inches possible in 24 hours.

“Now is a good time to review your plans and check that your NOAA Weather Radio has fresh batteries, is turned on and set to alert you of dangerous weather,” added Godsey.

The State EOC in Tallahassee will activate to a Level 2 or Partial Activation with Plans and Operations staff at 1:00 p.m. today to monitor the storm and assist with any requests from county partners.

Monday, November 30, 2009

FLASH REPORT FOR NOVEMBER 30

Governor Crist Signals End to 2009 Atlantic Hurricane Season

~ Joins emergency officials in reminding Floridians to prepared year-round, notes threat of El Niño ~
Governor Charlie Crist today, signaling the final day of the 2009 Atlantic hurricane season, urged Floridians to remain vigilant and heed the advice of state emergency management officials by planning year-round for emergencies and natural disasters including hurricanes and tornadoes. The Governor noted the threat of global El Niño conditions which have the potential to trigger severe weather this winter and upcoming spring.

“Thankfully, we were blessed with another mild hurricane season that largely spared our state from the impacts seen during seasons past,” said Governor Crist. “However, I encourage our residents to understand the ongoing threats from El Niño and remain prepared for the possibility of dangerous storms this winter and spring.”

Due in part to the current El Niño pattern, which appeared in early July 2009, Florida was spared any major land-falling storms this year, though the Atlantic Basin spawned nine named storms and three hurricanes. The only two systems to make landfall in the United States impacted Florida. These storms were Tropical Storm Claudette in August and Hurricane/Tropical Storm Ida in November, which threatened the state’s northern Gulf Coast. The State Emergency Operations Center in Tallahassee was activated a total of five days for the two storm events this season.

State emergency managers advise residents to remain prepared as an El Niño weather pattern may signal storms similar to the ones that occurred in 2007, when deadly tornadoes formed on the leading edge of several cold fronts during the winter months. The tornadoes that struck Lake County in 2007 killed 21 people, which was the deadliest tornado outbreak in the United States that year and the second deadliest in Florida’s history.

What is El Niño? What does it mean for Florida?

El Niño is a global weather phenomenon that results from changes in the atmosphere and the tropical Pacific Ocean. During times of moderate to strong El Niño, Florida typically sees a greater threat for severe weather, excessive rainfall and coastal storms during the winter and spring months. The current El Niño pattern is predicted to peak at moderate strength during the upcoming winter months, according to the Climate Prediction Center.

“It is important for Floridians to know that deadly tornado outbreaks struck during the overnight and early morning hours during El Niño events in 1982-83, 1997-98, and 2006-07, “ said Acting State Meteorologist Amy Godsey.

These events highlight the need for Floridians to invest in a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) “All-Hazards” alert radio for their families and businesses. These radios are relatively inexpensive and can be programmed to alert owners of severe weather or emergencies that occur in their county only.

“Floridians should remember that disasters can happen 365-days-a-year,” said Florida Division of Emergency Management Interim Director Ruben D. Almaguer. “Preparedness does not end with hurricane season. Because of our current threats, now is an excellent time to review, update your plans, take inventory of disaster supply lists, and recycle goods and batteries.”

With the holidays fast approaching, Governor Crist offered a few tips for residents who are recycling their disaster supplies.

“Consider making a holiday gift basket of preparedness items for families in need and donate non-expired goods to a local food bank or charitable community group,” said Governor Crist. “A NOAA alert radio can become a lifesaving stocking stuffer.”

The 2010 Atlantic hurricane season begins on June 1, 2010. For more information on the Florida Division of Emergency Management and to GET A PLAN!, please visit www.FloridaDisaster.org. For the latest weekly situation and flash reports, go to www.YouTube.com/FloridaSERT or join the DEM blog at http://flsertinfo.blogspot.com/.

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COLD FRONT TO BRING SEVERE WEATHER THREAT ACROSS NORTH AND CENTRAL FLORIDA BEGINNING TUESDAY NIGHT

State emergency management officials are urging residents from the Florida Panhandle east through Central Florida to be prepared for possible severe weather beginning Tuesday night into Wednesday as a squall line of storms is forecast to develop ahead of a cold front by mid-week. The National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center has placed a large area of North and Central Florida, and the northwestern portion of South Florida at a slight risk for severe weather on Wednesday.

“Residents and visitors in North and Central Florida need to monitor the latest forecasts on this approaching weather system and be prepared to act if additional warnings are issued,” said Acting State Meteorologist Amy Godsey. “A NOAA Weather Radio can be a lifesaver especially during nighttime events.”

This squall line has the potential to produce heavy rain, strong winds and tornadoes late Tuesday night through Wednesday night as the front moves east. Some areas could receive as much as 2 to 4 inches of rain during the frontal passage with higher totals of 6 to 8 inches possible in 24 hours. In addition to the rain, strong southerly winds ahead of the system may also result in coastal flooding along the state’s northern Gulf Coast, where Coastal Flood Watches are now in effect.

“Residents are reminded to respect the power of water and to ‘turn around, don’t drown’ if faced with a flooded roadway,” added Godsey.

Severe weather and tornadoes can occur in any month in Florida. Many of these severe weather outbreaks occur at night during this time of the year. Residents and visitors to the state are urged to monitor this severe weather potential via local media or your local National Weather Service Office, and be sure that the alert settings on your family or business NOAA Weather Radio are turned on.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

2010 Florida Severe Weather Awareness Week Poster and Video Public Service Announcement Contests Announced

TALLAHASSEE-- State emergency management officials today announced that Florida Severe Weather Awareness Week is scheduled for January 24-30, 2010. This year, the annual public awareness campaign includes a poster and video public service announcement (PSA) contest. Contest sponsors and prizes will be announced in the coming weeks.

"The goal of the week is to educate our residents and visitors about the natural hazards they may face and provide important information to help keep them safe," said Interim Director Ruben D. Almaguer of the Florida Division of Emergency Management. "It is a team effort and we are proud to have many great sponsors who are committed to this week of outreach and awareness."

ANNUAL POSTER CONTEST
Fourth and fifth graders in all 67 school districts are invited to participate in the statewide poster contest. All entries must be postmarked on or before THURSDAY, DECEMBER 31, 2009 and must arrive at the Florida Division of Emergency Management in Tallahassee no later than TUESDAY, JANUARY 5, 2010. Winners will be notified by phone. The top winners' artwork will be displayed in the State Emergency Operations Center during the first full week of February 2010. Prizes will include tickets to Walt Disney World and Universal Studios theme parks, among others. More information on prizes will be announced soon. For complete contest rules go to: www.FloridaDisaster.org/SWAW2010.

NEW VIDEO PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUCEMENT (PSA) CONTEST FOR 2010
Middle and high school students in grades 6-8 and 9-12 are invited to produce a 30-second public service announcement (PSA) incorporating a safety or preparedness message about one of the following topics: Tornadoes, Rip Currents or Using NOAA Weather Radios. Final digital videos must be mastered as a DVD for submission to the Division. All entries must be postmarked on or before THURSDAY, DECEMBER 31, 2009 and must arrive at the Florida Division of Emergency Management in Tallahassee no later than TUESDAY, JANUARY 5, 2010. For complete contest rules, entry forms and topic information go to:
www.FloridaDisaster.org/SWAW2010.

There will be one individual or group (limit 4 people per group) winner chosen for both middle school and high school-level videos. The winning video(s) will be professionally reproduced for broadcast use by the Division of Emergency Management in their statewide public awareness campaign. A production team will come to the winner(s) hometown and will spend a full day shooting the winning PSA. The winner(s) will spend the day acting as the Director(s) and will be honored at a rally in their hometown. Prizes will include tickets to Walt Disney World and Universal Studios theme parks, among others. More information on prizes will be announced soon.
Winners will be announced on January 23, 2010, at a kickoff event for Severe Weather Awareness Week. Winners unable to attend this event will be mailed their prizes.

These contests are part of an annual public awareness campaign that also includes the statewide Tornado Drill to be conducted by the National Weather Service Offices in Florida at 10:10 a.m. Eastern Time (9:10 a.m. Central Time), on Wednesday, January 27, 2010.

For more information on Florida’s 2010 Severe Weather Awareness Week go to: www.FloridaDisaster.org/SWAW2010.

Monday, November 23, 2009


This holiday season, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) wants to remind passengers of the security procedures in place and help travelers be prepared for security, before they leave home. Please see the link at
http://www.tsa.gov/travelers/holiday_travel.shtm

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Weekly Report

Statewide Disability Coordinator Chip Wilson talks about emergency preparedeness.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Weather Outlook: Wednesday - Friday



Wednesday & Thursday

The cold front will continue to make its way across Northeast and Central Florida while dissipating late Wednesday or early Thursday. High pressure will creep back into Florida and produce stable conditions across the state.

However, moist easterly flow across the eastern coast will cause a weak sea breeze effect and light showers may pop-up along the East-Central and Southeast Florida coast throughout the Wednesday and Thursday, lasting into the nighttime hours. Shower activity will be generally scarce and rain chances are only around 10-20% across Central and South Florida.

Daytime maximum temperatures will reach the mid to upper 60s across the western Panhandle, low 70s across the Florida Big Bend, upper 70s across Northeast Florida, and low 80s across Central and South Florida. Overnight minimum temperatures will fall to the low 40s across the western panhandle and Florida Big Bend, mid 50s across Northeast Florida, low 60s across Central Florida, and upper 60s to low 70s across South Florida.

Friday

High pressure will continue across the state producing partly cloudy skies and keeping rain chances less than 20% statewide. A non-tropical low pressure system will develop in the Western Caribbean and begin to move east-northeast with an accompanying cold front towards the panhandle throughout the day. Isolated to scattered showers will begin to impact the Panhandle and Florida Big Bend Friday night. Thick cloud cover will move into Northwestern Florida quickly after sunset. Widespread severe weather is not immediately anticipated Friday
Rip Currents

At the coast, hazardous rip current conditions are still present along the Atlantic Florida Coastline due to residual offshore swells up to 5ft, high astronomical tides in association with the new moon phase, and onshore wind flow. A high risk still remains for all beaches across the east coast, and the threat is expected to stay elevated with moderate to high risks through Friday. Moderate risks currently exist for the western panhandle and Bay County but the threat is expected to decrease as wave heights lessen and the passing cold front turns winds to the north. Daily surf zone and rip current forecasts for all Florida beaches.

Tropics

The tropics are currently very quiet. There are no active tropical systems and development is not expected within the next 48 hours. Only 2 weeks remain in the 2009 Hurricane Season. From a climatology standpoint of the last 100 years, only about 8 tropical systems have formed during the last 2 weeks of November. Regardless, cyclonic development is still possible and the Atlantic Basin will continue to be monitored closely until December. Tropical Outlook from the National Hurricane Center.

Monday, November 16, 2009

HIGH AND MODERATE RISK OF DANGEROUS RIP CURRENTS EXPECTED
THIS WEEK ON FLORIDA’S ATLANTIC COAST BEACHES

Division of Emergency Management officials are urging beachgoers to use caution this week as a high risk of dangerous rip currents is expected along the state’s Atlantic Coast today, becoming a moderate risk on the Northeast coast by Tuesday. An offshore wind flow and high astronomical tide will also produce a moderate risk for the western Panhandle. Swimming is not encouraged in these dangerous conditions.

Beachgoers who want to learn more about rip currents can visit http://www.ripcurrents.noaa.gov/. For more information on the Florida Division of Emergency Management and to GET A PLAN!, please visit: http://www.floridadisaster.org/. For the latest weekly situation and flash reports go to: www.YouTube.com/FloridaSERT or join our blog at: http://flsertinfo.blogspot.com/ .

Friday, November 13, 2009

Elevated Rip Current Threat Continues This Weekend


Ocean swells along the Florida East Coast will result in a moderate risk of rip currents at Northeast and East Central Florida beaches today.
Beachgoers are encouraged to check beach warning flags or with local beach patrol before entering the water this weekend.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Weekly Report for the Second Week of November

Meteorologist Amy Godsey details the statewide threat for rip currents going into next week.

HIGH RISK OF DANGEROUS RIP CURRENTS EXPECTED TODAY FOR GULF BEACHES FROM PINELLAS COUNTY SOUTH THROUGH LEE COUNTY

Beachgoers from Pinellas County south through Lee County are urged to use caution today as a high risk of dangerous rip currents is expected along the Gulf Coast. There is also a moderate risk posted for Levy County south through Pasco County. When red flags are flying beachgoers need to be aware that swimming in the Gulf of Mexico can be dangerous.

“Beach conditions will be very rough and rip currents can be life threatening to anyone entering the water,” Acting State Meteorologist Amy Godsey said. “We strongly urge beachgoers to check the rip current outlook and remember the warning flag signs before going into the water. Beachgoers should stay out of the water when red flags are flying.”

A rip current is a narrow, powerful current of water running perpendicular to the beach, out into the ocean. These currents may extend 200 to 2,500 feet (61 to 762 meters) lengthwise, but they are typically less than 30 feet (9 meters) wide. Rip currents can often move at more than 5 miles per hour (8 kilometers per hour) or faster.


Safety tips when at the beach:

Whenever possible, swim at a lifeguard-protected beach.
Never swim alone.
Learn how to swim in the surf. It's not the same as swimming in a pool or lake.
Be cautious at all times, especially when swimming at unguarded beaches. If in doubt, don’t go out.
Obey all instructions and orders from lifeguards. Lifeguards are trained to identify potential hazards. Ask a lifeguard about the conditions before entering the water. This is part of their job.
Stay at least 100 feet away from piers and jetties. Permanent rip currents often exist alongside these structures.
Consider using polarized sunglasses when at the beach. They will help you to spot signatures of rip currents by cutting down glare and reflected sunlight off the ocean’s surface.
Pay especially close attention to children and elderly when at the beach. Even in shallow water, wave action can cause loss of footing.

What to do if caught in a rip current:

Remain calm to conserve energy and think clearly.
Never fight against the current.
Think of it like a treadmill that cannot be turned off, which you need to step to the side of.
Swim out of the current in a direction following the shoreline. When out of the current, swim at an angle--away from the current--towards shore.
If you are unable to swim out of the rip current, float or calmly tread water. When out of the current, swim towards shore.
If you are still unable to reach shore, draw attention to yourself by waving your arm and yelling for help.

If you see someone in trouble, don't become a victim too:
Get help from a lifeguard.
If a lifeguard is not available, have someone call 9-1-1.
Throw the rip current victim something that floats--a lifejacket, a cooler, an inflatable ball.
Yell instructions on how to escape.
Remember: many people drown while trying to save someone else from a rip current.


Beachgoers who want to learn more about rip currents can visit www.ripcurrents.noaa.gov. For more information on the Florida Division of Emergency Management and to GET A PLAN!, please visit: www.FloridaDisaster.org. For the latest weekly situation and flash reports go to: www.YouTube.com/FloridaSERT or join our blog at: http://flsertinfo.blogspot.com/ .