~ 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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