It was ten months ago that Hurricane Ian unleashed its devastating winds, rain, and storm surge on Southwest Florida’s beautiful Gulf coast. Less than six years ago, Hurricane Irma dealt another significant blow. Predictions for hurricane frequency and severity vary from year to year. Although hurricane season begins on June 1 each year, historically the most active months are August, September, and October. Read more for information you need to be ready should a storm approach Collier County.
Hurricane Season Basics
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) sets annual predictions for the number and strength of tropical storms and hurricanes. For the 2023 storm season, NOAA’s estimate is at near normal levels, forecasting approximately 12 to 17 named storms, with 5 to 9 of those expected to reach hurricane strength, and up to 1 to 4 considered major hurricanes at category 3 or above. These projections are based on many factors, and are not guarantees. In any given year, there may be fewer or more storms than predicted. What is known, however, is that tropical storms and hurricanes will form during the warmer months of the year. The only unknown is where, or if, they will make landfall.
Visiting NOAA’s National Hurricane Center website will give you regularly updated information about any currently active tropical storm systems. This will include their predicted paths once they become named storms. While even large storm systems can change their track fairly suddenly, usually when a storm is 2 to 3 days away its forecasted path is known.
The State of Florida maintains an online Essential Guide to Hurricane Preparedness. This website shares definitions for various important terms. For example, a watch means that conditions are possible, while a warning means that conditions are expected. These storms, which are very large, tend to produce rain bands, which means that severe weather conditions can extend from the center of the storm—its eye—in rolling bands. Among the most dangerous effects of these kinds of storms, and what was so destructive with Hurricane Ian, is storm surge, which happens when the strength of the storm coming onto land causes the coastal water to swell and rush inland.
How to Prepare
Florida offers recommendations about supplies you should have ready to go during hurricane season. This will be helpful if you need to evacuate with short notice, or if you stay at home and need to wait, for example, for the power to come back on, or boil water notices to be lifted. A few examples of necessary supplies include:
- Enough nonperishable food and water for at least three days, including infant formula or baby food, of needed.
- A fully stocked first aid kit and enough essential medications to least at least three days.
- Flashlights and a batter operated radio, with extra batteries.
- Enough pet food and supplies to last at least three days.
- A waterproof container for keys, important documents and information, electronics, and cash.
Before a storm arrives, make sure your home’s exterior is fully protected. If your home doesn’t have storm windows or exterior shutters, secure plywood sheeting that is cut to fit the shape and size of your windows and doors. Any loose items, such as garbage cans or patio seating, should be brought inside. Be certain that your car’s gas tank is full, that you have a supply of cash for essentials while services are being restored, and that all electronics are fully charged. If your home has a bathtub, consider filling it so that water can be used for cleaning or toilet flushing.
You may not need to evacuate, even if a large storm is approaching. To check which evacuation zone you live in, visit this online map maintained by Collier County Emergency Management. If you do need to evacuate, having supplies packed and ready to go will make it less stressful, and having a full tank of gas in your car will allow you to get through any heavy traffic leaving the region. In the event of evacuation requirements, Collier County will share information about maps and shelters. It is a good idea to familiarize yourself with all the information and resources supplied by Collier County Emergency Management.
Be Hurricane Ready
Future Ready Collier’s mission includes a commitment to school and career readiness. When it comes to the storms that are a natural part of our life in our coastal paradise, we urge you to also be hurricane ready. If you have any questions about Future Ready Collier, or needed information and resources, please contact email@example.com.