The mid-west braces for the tornado season, low lying areas await the floods of rain filled waterways, the west coast fights forest & brush fires and pray an earthquake doesn’t destroy their homes, and on the Atlantic and Gulf coasts we watch the low pressure waves as they move across the ocean from the shores of Africa. Hurricane season is upon us.

An active season is forecast for this year; 17 named storms, 9 hurricanes of which 5 will intensify to category 3 or better. Not much different than last year’s forecast when only tropical storm Ernesto made landfall in the US.

A couple of months ago a scientist released a report claiming the slow hurricane season last year was caused by a very active sand storm season in the Sahara Desert, causing a very high concentration of dust in the atmosphere, causing less heating of the Atlantic waters. Sounds reasonable, but they haven’t yet figured out how to predict the sandstorm season.

What can we actually expect? Anybody’s guess at this point. All we can do is cross our fingers and hope all the storms stay mild and go elsewhere.

The Florida Keys have the unique problem of only one way out during an evacuation. US Route 1 can get very backed-up in a very short period.  Not only because it is narrow, but because many people wait until the last minute to decide to get out of town. Why waste a trip on a false alarm, as has occurred many times?  Wait until you know it’s going to hit.

That mentality caused a great deal of grief during the 2005 season when the Keys were hit pretty hard, culminating with high winds and flooding storm surges from Wilma in late October.  But then there are the “hearty” souls that await the hurricane parties and stay in town no matter what!

It would make some sense to at least prepare ahead of time if you do not plan on evacuating.  Fill some gallon jugs with water and store some non-perishable food items. Buy a few flash lights and stock-up on batteries.  Since phone, cable and internet service will probably be out of service for some time, keep a battery powered radio on hand (with extra batteries).  And please keep your vehicle topped off with fuel. Don’t wait to sit in line or until supplies are gone.

We could actually use some tropical storms, at least some rainy days.  The Florida drought has been one of the worst in history this year. Lake Okeechobiee, which supplies the majority of Florida’s fresh water is at an all time low, dropping over four feet.

Use a little common sense and be safe!