For years, Atlantic hurricane season after Atlantic hurricane season passed without a major hurricane making landfall in Florida. This had emergency management officials around the state worried that people, especially newer Floridians who had been in the state the last time a big storm struck the peninsula might take the danger seriously enough.
Then last year happened. In 2017, Hurricane Irma made landfall in the Florida Keys as a Category Four storm on Sept. 10 and headed up the state. The storm forced some 6.5 million Floridians, including those in Pasco and Pinellas counties, to evacuate. This produced a lot of traffic congestions as vehicles head northbound on I-75 and I-95.
Perhaps the most vivid memories of Irma’s impact on the Suncoast was the lengthy power outages and long lines and gasoline stations as people frantically tried to top off their tanks as the storm approached. That panic buying quickly led to empty gas pumps, as the storm kept the ships that delivered gasoline to the area away from damaged port facilities.
Even before the June 1 start of the hurricane season, the Suncoast has already been given a dose of rough weather in the form of days of persistent rain that caused flooding concerns in the region. Then a tropical system arose in the Caribbean, prompting projections of a rainy Memorial Day weekend.
Still, keep in mind that early tropical activity doesn’t guarantee an active hurricane season. In addition, the traditional peak of the season doesn’t come until September, so a slow start to the season doesn’t guarantee there won’t be a lot of storms.
As always, we recommend that everyone be prepared to deal with, as best as possible, whatever the hurricane season brings.