Florida emergency management officials gathered today at the State Emergency Operations Center to mark the official end of the 2010 Hurricane Season and remind Floridians that emergency preparedness does not end with hurricane season.
“Florida was blessed this year with minimal impacts from a very active hurricane season,” said Division of Emergency Management Director David Halstead. “However, potentially serious drought conditions are developing statewide and beginning to resemble the drought conditions of 1998 which led to the most severe wildfire season in Florida’s recent history.”
The 2010 Atlantic Hurricane Season was extremely active, tying 1995 for the third most named storms in a season. There were 19 named storms, including 12 hurricanes, five of which became a category three or higher on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale. Since 1944, only two seasons (1969 and 2005) have had 12 or more hurricanes in a single season. Though the Sunshine State was spared a major landfall, Tropical Storm Bonnie brought several inches of rain over portions of Southern Florida.
“The La Niña phenomenon that produced an above-average hurricane season may also produce an equally active wildfire season for the Southeastern United States,” said State Meteorologist Amy Godsey. “Floridians should monitor drought conditions and heed any local officials’ advisories about burning or water restrictions.”
In addition to the 1998 wildfire season, Florida has also experienced several other destructive severe weather events in recent years. In February 2007, a deadly tornado outbreak struck across Central Florida. Known as the Groundhog Day Tornadoes, three separate tornadoes in the early morning hours touched down between Lake and Volusia counties, two of which were EF-3 strength on the Enhanced Fujita Scale (155-160 mph winds). The swath of damage extended nearly 70 miles and caused 21 fatalities and $270 million in damage, making it the deadliest tornado disaster in the United States that year.
To monitor these potential weather conditions, residents and visitors are encouraged to have a NOAA All-Hazards Weather Radio. This portable radio alerts listeners to warnings of possible tornados, severe storms and potential for wildfire. The NOAA All-Hazards Weather Radio is available for purchase through various Internet outlets and at many retail electronics, sporting goods, and marine accessory stores. Floridians are also encouraged to purchase spare batteries for their NOAA Weather Radio, as electricity can be lost during emergency events.
For more information on the Florida Division of Emergency Management and to GET A PLAN!, please visit: www.FloridaDisaster.org. Follow us on Twitter at www.Twitter.com/flsertinfo or join our blog at: http://flsertinfo.blogspot.com/.