ORLANDO, Fla. – You hear us say it all the time: Be prepared. Prepare early. In fact, you may even be tired of hearing it.
But it really is key when it comes to getting through a busy hurricane season.
Did you know that 2020 had the most active hurricane season on record? There were 30 named storms. Luckily, Central Florida felt no major impacts but no one can guarantee we’ll always be that fortunate.
Dr. Michael Brennan is branch chief at the National Hurricane Center in Miami. He knows all too well how active the 2020 season was.
“We had such an extraordinary season,” Brennan said.
The fact that we were in the middle of a global pandemic made it even more challenging.
“There’s a lot of fatigue, not just pandemic fatigue,” Brennan said.
Brennan understands families feel worn out after all they’ve been through recently.
“I think there’s still hurricane fatigue leftover from 2020,” he said.
Can you imagine having the responsibility of forecasting hurricanes for the entire country during the COVID-19 crisis?
Everyone at the National Hurricane Center lived through working around the clock while dealing with the threat of COVID. But they made it work.
“It was really a real success story, I think, from our perspective,” Brennan said.
The team at the hurricane center had to have a COVID plan themselves.
“We were able to do, you know, operations remotely, really successfully for parts of the season. And then when things got really busy and we had storms threatening the United States, we were able to come in here and work in the office and keep socially distanced. And we were wearing masks,” he said.
The coronavirus pandemic will still be with us this hurricane season.
“Central Florida is vulnerable to storms coming from the east coast, from the west coast, from the south. And we’re vulnerable, you’re vulnerable all hurricane season long,” Brennan said.
Not only will Floridians continue to deal with the pandemic but they’ll also face the risk of storms.
“You really have to have your guard up the entire season and be ready,” he said.
For that reason, Brennan encourages everyone to make sure they have a plan in place for their family this hurricane season.
“Know your risk, make sure you’re covered with insurance. Make sure you have flood insurance if you live in a flood-prone area so that you’re covered if there’s damage to your home. And again, have that plan in place,” Brennan said. “Now, know where you’re going to go. ... Make a plan when a storm threatens you at the last minute.”
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News 6 meteorologists work around the clock when storms form to help you and your family stay informed. Brennan knows firsthand just how fast storms can change speed and direction.
“Because you can have a storm like a (Hurricane) Michael, that forms and makes landfall as a major hurricane in two or three days,” he said.
The 2020 season proved just how quickly storms can intensify, according to Brennan.
“We saw some really remarkable rates of strengthening last year,” he said.
Storms often grow stronger in a short period of time, according to Brennan, who said last season had plenty of examples.
“Every Category 5 hurricane that’s made landfall in the United States was a tropical storm two or three days before it reached that intensity,” Brennan said.
He said storms can hit an area that’s favorable for quick development as they come closer to shore.
“They hit that sweet spot and they rapidly strengthen right up until landfall. That’s what happened (with) Michael and Andrew and the (1935) storm in The Keys, and Camille, for example,” he said.
Bottom line: Despite any fatigue you’re feeling, pay attention this year. Because Brennan said when storms shift in a pandemic, those shifts can be a big problem.
“The sheltering guidance that they get from their local emergency managers might change, they might do different types of sheltering,” he said.
Safety orders could change, too, so, get your family ready now.
Brennan said don’t be caught off guard.
“Brevard County up to the Space Coast may have to evacuate for storm surge. Know where you’re going to go,” Brennan said.
Brennan said being prepared can greatly reduce your stress.
“Just having that plan in place now can really reduce your anxiety level and your level of tension and stress when the storm actually approaches,” he said.
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