Letter from Chief Meterorologist Bob Harrigan

The 2016 hurricane season is here so be prepared. This hurricane guide will give you the necessary information you need to keep you, your family and pets safe if a storm threatens our area. This year the experts are predicting a slightly above average season with 13 named storms and 6 hurricanes 2 of which could be major storms with winds greater than 110 mph.

The main reason for the increase in predicting more tropical cyclones in the Atlantic basin is due to the fact that El Nino (warming of the E. Pacific) will no longer be present during the summer. This warming has a tendency of shutting down hurricane formation. There is a real good chance that we may see La Nina form which would put Florida in a greater risk at getting hit by a cyclone. Either way one must remember it only takes one storm hitting our coast to make it an active season. People who have a disaster plan in place are far more likely to survive the storm than the folks who don’t.  So read through this guide and make sure you know what evacuation zone your residence resides. You can do this very easily by going to your Counties web site and typing in your address and finding out what zone you live in.  (https://ags2.scgov.net/knowyourzone/ )  Manatee http://www.mymanatee.org/gisapps/mobile/index.html?type=public-safety ).  If and when mandatory evacuations are issued you should put your plan in place. Don’t wait too long to leave as roads may become very congested due to others fleeing the area. Know where you are going to take shelter. The best place is a family member or friend’s house outside the evacuation zone. You must make sure the place you are going to ride the storm out in is properly shuttered and can withstand the strong winds of a storm.

Remember one plan does not fit all. You must decide what fits best suits you and your family. Not all shelters will be opening during a storm. The size and intensity of the storm will determine which shelters will be opening, so you should pay attention to ABC 7 and MySuncoast.com for constant updates as to which shelters will be opening.

We have seen a lull in major storms hitting the U.S. in the past 10 years. The U.S. has not been hit by a major hurricane (winds greater than 110 mph) in over 10 years. This is a record for the longest stretch of days since the U.S. has been hit in over 120 years of data. According to meteorologist Dennis Feltgen, spokesperson for the National Hurricane Center, "The farther we get from the last hurricane, the closer we get to the next one."

It has been a long time since our coast was hit by a storm. Statistically the West coast of Florida is one of the least likely areas to get hit by major hurricane along the Gulf coast States. In fact Manatee County has never been hit by a major storm over the past 120 years. Could this be the year? It’s unlikely, however it can happen. We saw that in 2004 when category 4 hurricane Charlie with winds up to 145 mph made landfall into Charlotte Harbor ripping the area apart.

Are job at ABC 7 is prepare you not scare you. So get a plan ready now don’t wait until the last minute it could be the difference from life or death

As always, we at ABC 7 will be here for you before, during and after the storm. Stay safe this hurricane season!

Bob Harrigan

Chief Meteorologist, ABC 7

The Official Suncoast Storm Team

Stay up to date on Suncoast Weather wherever you by downloading the official ABC 7 MySuncoast.com weather app. It provides users with the Official Suncoast Weather for our area including an interactive radar map, current conditions, 10 day forecast and weather video from ABC 7.