On Monday, U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Fla., urged Floridians to be ready for hurricanes even as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) expects an active season in the coming months.
As Buchanan’s office noted, NOAA “updated its forecast from ‘above-normal’ to an ‘extremely active’ hurricane season. NOAA is now predicting 19-25 named storms, and three to six major hurricanes, defined as a category 3, 4 or 5 storm with winds of 111 mph or higher.
“Hurricane season has been off to a rapid pace with a record-setting nine named storms so far and has the potential to be one of the busiest on record. Historically, only two named storms form on average by early August,” NOAA warned.
Buchanan said that hurricane preparations have changed due to the current coronavirus pandemic.
“People need to be ready in the age of COVID and plan accordingly,” Buchanan said on Monday. “You can’t wait until the last minute when the storm is bearing down on us.
“I’m pleased to see that local officials are incorporating necessary safety and social distancing practices into their evacuation and shelter guidelines in order to help prevent the spread of this deadly virus,” he added. “Floridians should make sure they are aware of the health and safety protocols.”
Manatee County Public Safety Director Jake Saur and Sarasota County Emergency Management Chief Ed McCrane both said that evacuees in their counties will have to wear masks if they use any of the shelters set up by their counties.
“We are entering the peak of hurricane season, so now is the time when you must have a plan and be ready. We’re continuing to remind Manatee County residents that a public shelter should be your absolute last resort if severe weather approaches. Contact friends or family who live inland or outside of evacuation areas and try to stay with them if you need to evacuate,” Saur said.
“Safety is always a priority during hurricane season, but especially in the current environment of COVID-19. Suncoast residents should remain vigilant; be prepared for hurricane season amid the pandemic by ensuring you have all the supplies you need for at least one week, including masks, sanitizer and disinfectant,” McCrane said.
Reach Kevin Derby at firstname.lastname@example.org.