Hurricane Season 2015: Get Ready!
A hurricane has not delivered a significant impact to the Florida Keys since the hyperactive season of 2005, nearly a decade ago. In fact, a “major” hurricane has not struck the United States coastline since the morning of October 24, 2005, when the eye of Hurricane Wilma crossed the Florida coast near Cape Romano. Of course, we all hope this “quiet” streak continues throughout the 2015 Hurricane Season.
However, history shows that Florida Keys communities are among the most vulnerable and frequently affected by hurricanes. It only takes one bad storm to ruin a season. Therefore, it is wise for both residents of and visitors to the fabulous Florida Keys to “stay aware, and be prepared”.
Staying aware begins with taking control of your weather information flow. Capt. Marti Brown has said often, “Don’t be a passive recipient of weather information. Actively seek good weather information”. I could not agree more. Find trusted and reliable weather information sources, be they from television, radio, internet, NOAA/National Weather Service, or all of the above.
The following is a recommended marine weather briefing routine, using information routinely available from the National Weather Service:
Tropical Weather Outlook
This message provides a list of current storms and the formation potential for any tropical weather disturbances during the next five days across the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, and Gulf of Mexico. It is released four times per day, at 2:00 a.m., 8:00 a.m., 2:00 p.m., and 8:00 p.m. EDT during the Hurricane Season (June 1 through November 30).
Tropical Cyclone Forecast Cone hurricanes.gov
The cone represents the probable track of the center of a tropical cyclone, and is formed by enclosing the area swept out by a set of imaginary circles placed along the forecast track (at 12, 24, 36 hours, etc.). The size of each circle is set so that two-thirds of historical official forecast errors over the previous five years (2010–2014) fall within the circle. Importantly, the cone provides no information on expected *impacts*.
Hazardous Weather Outlook for the Florida Keys
This outlook describes the potential for all types of hazardous weather across the Florida Keys and adjacent coastal waters during the next seven days, including gale-force winds, seas greater than six feet, waterspouts, and other tropical cyclone impacts.
Coastal Waters Forecast for the Florida Keys
This product is a widely disseminated message providing a five-day marine weather forecast for the coastal waters adjoining the Florida Keys, including a marine weather synopsis, Gulf Stream location information, winds, seas, and weather. Forecast winds and seas represent the most likely values.
However, when a tropical cyclone threatens, special phrases are included to indicate the potential for tropical storm or hurricane conditions (e.g., “Tropical Storm Conditions Expected” or “Hurricane Conditions Possible”). The Coastal Waters Forecast is routinely issued at 4:30 a.m., 10:30 a.m., 4:30 p.m., and 10:30 p.m. EDT. However, when a tropical cyclone threatens the Florida Keys, it will be issued closer to 6:00 a.m., 12:00 p.m., 6:00 p.m., and 12:00 a.m., in order to include the most up to date information from the National Hurricane Center.
A daily review of these four information sources will keep the Florida Keys mariner aware of anything brewing in the Tropics, as well as cognizant of potential local impacts.
The second part of a wise approach to the Hurricane Season is being “hurricane prepared”. This starts with proper planning, which can take the form of a pre-season mental exercise or, better yet, a written hurricane preparedness plan (ready.gov is a good place to start). For additional information on hurricane preparedness, hurricanes.gov/prepare has a wealth of information. The Florida Keys National Weather Service will be active on social media this Hurricane Season, providing both tropical cyclone awareness and preparedness information, as well as up-to-date real-time storm information for local tropical cyclone threats. Like us on Facebook (NWSKeyWest) or follow us on Twitter @NWSKeyWest.
Hurricane Season 2015 is here – Be hurricane prepared. And remember to be weather-ready, and stay safe!
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