Jun 2, 2022 - News

How to prepare for Tampa Bay's first hurricane season storm

Animated illustration of a siren flashing on top of an umbrella.
Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

The first big storm of hurricane season is a-comin'.

Driving the news: A tropical weather system, which may soon become a depression or tropical storm, is swirling in the Caribbean today and is expected to affect Florida this weekend.

  • Tampa Bay is near the system's projected path, per NOAA.
  • Three models project the storm will land in either the Charlotte or Sarasota areas, while others predict the system won't make it out of Mexico.
  • No matter what, all of Florida's west coast should prepare for four to six inches of rain this weekend, the National Hurricane Center says.

The latest: Expect areas of heavy rainfall across south and central Florida on Friday and Friday night, including some flash flooding, per the National Hurricane Center.

The big picture: This is now the seventh year in row NOAA has predicted an above-average hurricane season for the Atlantic. The season runs from June 1 to November 30.

  • NOAA forecasters are predicting 14 to 21 named storms, six to 10 hurricanes and three to six major hurricanes.

Point of intrigue: Hurricane experts tired of people underestimating low-category storms are looking at new metrics that could better explain the risks, the Bradenton Herald reports.

Be smart: Florida's 2022 Disaster Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday runs through June 10. See which disaster preparedness supplies are tax-exempt.

  • Know your evacuation zone. Citrus, Hillsborough and Sarasota counties updated their zones last year.
  • Plan where you'll go, or who you'll stay with, if you need to evacuate.
  • HART lines convert their routes to transport evacuees to local shelters. You can also use the bus to get yourself to other shelter (such as a friend or family member's house) without driving during a storm.

What they're saying: University of South Florida professor Elizabeth Dunn, who specializes in community resilience and disaster mitigation, told Axios that increased gas prices should be factored into an evacuation plan well ahead of time.

  • "Even if you know a storm's approaching five days from now, make sure you have enough gas to seek a safe location," Dunn said. "With Irma, a lot of people were running out of gas … and that's going to be an issue again."
  • And you don't need to go that far to evacuate, she said. "They might just need to identify someone a little more inland or local. Think, 'How do we evacuate tens of miles, not thousands of miles away.'"

Editor's note: This story has been updated to note that the tropical weather system is not yet a tropical storm.

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