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Sunday, May 14, 2017



S U N D AY, M AY 1 4 , 2 0 1 7

At the mercy of


Be prepared to weather the storms • Know where to go: evacuation maps, shelters • Know how to protect your home, boat and more • Protect your pets • Your hurricane kit: Don’t wait to get it in order

And stay informed


Inside this section The El Niño effect

Whether Florida experiences a quiet hurricane season or a very active one depends on what happens in the other hemisphere. The warmer-than-average water Pacific Ocean phenomenon known as El Niño will once again determine the number and strength of the storms generated in the Atlantic Ocean in 2017. But even in a weak hurricane season, it just takes one storm to wreak havoc. Last year, Florida experienced two such storms. While the Tampa Bay area has avoided a direct strike for nearly a century, last year’s hurricane season should serve as a warning for this year. The Tampa Bay Times’ annual hurricane guide explains the role El Niño will play this storm season and help you prepare your family, your pets and your property for whatever is in store for our region. Page 4


A satellite image shows Hurricane Matthew as it moves northwest along the east coast of Florida on Oct. 6, 2016. ON THE COVER: A car sits in the middle of a flooded St. Augustine street on Oct. 7, after Hurricane Matthew blew through the area.

Stay in the know, and their social media accounts will keep you informed as tropical weather approaches. Page 9

Don’t wait Be prepared before a storm hits. Waiting until the last minute to buy food, water, batteries and first aid can mean long lines and bare shelves. Page 10

Evacuation maps Evacuation zones are always changing. We have the latest map for your area. Pages 12-13

Protect your property Along with taking care of your home and boat, remember to keep important documents in a safe place and take them with you if you evacuate. Page 14

Don’t forget your pets Your pets can’t prepare for a storm, so you have to do it for them. And if you evacuate, know which shelters allow animals. Page 18

Keep up with the latest information 10Weather WTSP meteorologist Bobby Deskins says that the key to staying safe during a hurricane is staying informed. Page 20


| Sunday, May 14, 2017 | Tampa Bay Times

Tampa Bay Times | Sunday, May 14, 2017 |



Residents evacuate the flooded Elfers Parkway area of Pasco County as the Anclote River crested at 25.08 feet during Hurricane Hermine.

Meteorologists expect a mild storm season this year. But local emergency planners warn against complacency. BY JOSH SOLOMON


Times Staff Writer

f forecasters get it right, the 2017 hurricane season will see fewer storms than normal. Those storms will be of lesser intensity. And there will be less chance they’ll make landfall. But if forecasters get it wrong, blame El Niño. The Pacific weather phenomenon could once again determine how rough the Atlantic hurricane season gets. Will we see a repeat of a very active 2016 storm season, when two destructive storms lashed Florida? Or a return to the sedate decade that preceded last year?


“It’s still quite uncertain,” said Michael M. Bell, a Colorado State atmospheric sciences professor and coauthor of the university’s annual storm forecast. “The ocean temperatures off the coast of South America are already warm, but we have a lot of difficulties predicting whether or not an El Niño will form when we’re looking at it in the spring.” El Niño is what scientists call the weather phenomenon of warmerthan-average water temperatures in the eastern and central Pacific. The warmer water creates high-altitude winds that move across the tropical Atlantic Ocean, where most Atlantic hurricanes form, making it harder

| Sunday, May 14, 2017 | Tampa Bay Times

for storms to form and strengthen. If El Niño performs as expected in the Pacific, it should tamp down on storm formations in the Atlantic. ••• Colorado State University’s Tropical Meteorology Project has predicted that there will be 11 named storms this year, four hurricanes and two major storms — hurricanes that are Category 3 or higher. Under the Saffir-Simpson measure of wind strength, those are hurricanes with wind s in excess of 111 mph. Eleven named storms is fewer than the median from the years 1981 to 2010, during which there were 12 named storms, 6.5 hurricanes and two major hurricanes. The storm season doesn’t officially start until June 1 and runs until Nov. 30, yet the Atlantic has already seen its first storm. In April, Tropical Storm Arlene formed east of Bermuda, lasted only three days and did

not impact land. Last year saw an out-of-season hurricane, too, when Hurricane Alex formed in January. Is that because of climate change? Bell said it’s too soon to tell if rising water temperatures are making oceans more conducive to hurricanes forming outside of the traditional June-to-November window. Historically, about 97 percent of cyclones occur during hurricane season, Bell said, meaning roughly one out of every 33 happen out of season. ••• Florida underwent an unprecedented 11-year hurricane drought, from 2005 to 2016, during which no hurricanes made landfall in the Sunshine State. That ended in 2016. In September, Hurricane Hermine made landfall in Apalachee Bay as a Category 1 storm, causing an estimated $550 million .

See PLAN, 6

2017 Atlantic storm names Arlene Bret Cindy Don Emily Franklin Gert Harvey Irma Jose Katia Lee Maria Nate Ophelia Philippe Rina Sean Tammy Vince Whitney Source: National Hurricane Center

Tampa Bay Times | Sunday, May 14, 2017 |


El Niño

Damage and danger: the Saffir-Simpson Scale

The trade winds weaken and allow warm surface water in the Western Pacific Ocean to flow back to the east. This leads to high-level winds that can shear the tops off hurricanes forming in the Atlantic basin.



Pacific Ocean

Atlantic Ocean

Category 1

Wind direction

The warmest water is shown in red. Sources:, National Weather Service



PLAN continued from 4

in damage up and down the Gulf Coast and two deaths. Weeks later, Hurricane Matthew churned through the Caribbean and zeroed in on the Florida coast as a powerful Category 5 storm, unleashing devastating winds of up to 165mph. While it never officially made landfall in Florida, it spent several days in October damaging the east coast as a weaker storm. Total U.S. damage was estimated to be


Winds: 74-95 mph Storm surge: 4-5 feet above normal

roughly $10 billion. There were 585 deaths directly linked to the storm, including 546 in Haiti alone and 34 in the United States, according to the National Hurricane Center. This year’s Colorado State report forecasts a lower-than-average probability of a storm making landfall this year. The chance of a hurricane coming ashore along the U.S. East Coast, including Florida, is 51 percent, according to the forecast. That coast has been struck at least

| Sunday, May 14, 2017 | Tampa Bay Times

Category 2 Winds: 96-110 mph Storm surge: 6-8 feet above normal

Category 3 Winds: 111-130 mph Storm surge: 9-12 feet above normal

Category 4 Winds: 131-155 mph Storm surge: 13-18 feet above normal

Source: National Hurricane Center

once by a hurricane in 61 of the last 100 years. ••• The chances of a hurricane striking the Atlantic side of the U.S. coastline — from the Texas-Mexico border to Maine — is 75 percent. Historical data suggests the probability of landfall over the last century was 84 percent. The reason the predicted landfall probabilities are lower this year, Bell said, is that there are fewer storms forecast. Another reason for the reduced

Category 5

Winds: Over 155 mph Storm surge: greater than 18 feet above normal Times

numbers is the cooler-than-normal water in the northern Atlantic. Like El Niño, Bell said, lower northern Atlantic temperatures contribute to wind sheer, which can also prevent storms from strengthening into hurricanes. The mild winter, which resulted in warmer temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico, shouldn’t have much impact, said Phil Klotzbach, a Colorado State research scientist and Bell’s coauthor. The gulf is always warm, he said, so storms that enter it are likely to strengthen anyway. And, Klotzbach said, most storms

don’t form in the gulf. Yet the below-average storm forecast doesn’t mean much to local officials. They must prepare the same way every year, Pasco County Emergency Services director Kevin Guthrie said. There’s more to worry about during storm season than just hurricane-force winds. Much of Pasco has found itself under water over the last two summers: in 2015, during record rainfall in the Tampa Bay region and last year because of Hurricane Hermine. .

See PLAN, 8

Tampa Bay Times | Sunday, May 14, 2017 |



PLAN continued from 6

“It doesn’t matter how many storms you have in a season, it only takes one,” Guthrie said. “We could have a hurricane season with only three named storms, but if just one of those storms comes into the Tampa Bay area, that’s a bad day.” The 2015-16 rain events also contributed to sewage spills in Pinellas County and especially in St. Petersburg. The city’s overburdened and outdated sewer system released about 200 million gallons of wastewater into neighborhoods and into Tampa Bay. ••• Guthrie said Florida residents cannot fall into the trap of thinking a below-average forecast means they don’t need to prep for storm season. He recalled 1992, an otherwise below-average season with the huge exception of Hurricane Andrew, a Category 5 storm that caused $24 billion in damage in 2015 dollars. It is the third-costliest catastrophe in U.S. history, according to Florida International University’s International Hurricane Research Center. Hurricane Katrina in 2005 was No. 1, and the Sept. 11 terrorist attack


was second. Guthrie outlined three steps people should take to get ready for hurricane season: • First, do the research: Do you live in a flood zone, a storm surge zone or an evacuation zone? • Second, prepare a hurricane kit whether hunkering down for a storm or evacuating to a shelter. You should be prepared to take important paperwork, prescriptions and irreplaceable valuables like family photos with you. You and your family will also need enough food and water to last up to five days until help or more supplies arrive in your area. • Hopefully, the third step doesn’t come to pass: Heed evacuation orders and seek shelter. But steps one and two will prepare you for that. “When we say disasters are local, we don’t mean local government,” Guthrie said. “We mean the local citizen. “So it starts with that individual having a plan. Contact Josh Solomon at (813) 909-4613 or Follow @josh_solomon15.

| Sunday, May 14, 2017 | Tampa Bay Times

Getty Images (2016)

State Road A1A in Flagler Beach took a pounding from Hurricane Matthew’s storm surge in October 2016. Matthew didn’t make landfall in Florida, but it still caused extensive damage.

Information is close at hand BY CHRIS TISCH

Times Staff Writer

Social media and technology have dramatically changed the way we bring you information about

hurricanes and other natural disasters. For one, the opportunity for and to share information with readers — and from readers — immediately helps make us all better equipped to react if a hurricane should strike Tampa Bay. Where have mandatory evacuations been ordered? Where are power lines down? Where can you get sandbags? All those questions and more can be answered more immediately today than ever before. We encourage readers to connect with us for information and to share with us to help tell the story if a hurricane should come our way. Here’s how:

Connect: at or

As part of your hurricane preparedness plan, register for and sign up for breaking news email and text alerts. The Times will use these methods to communicate useful information to your mobile devices. Another way to get prepared is to download the Tampa Bay Times mobile app for your smartphone. The Times will also send out important push notifications to users of our app. You also can download the TBO Weather app, which has up-to-the-minute radar and forecasts. If a hurricane threatens or hits Florida, visit tampabay. com or on your computer, tablet or phone for a live updated blog feed of critical information, searchable databases, interactive maps, relief resources, shelter and traffic information, photos, videos, stories and more. The Times will also provide a communication board where members of the Tampa Bay community can share important information about what they are seeing in their local areas.

Use social media

Get immediate storm updates and talk to the Times on social media in the following ways: Twitter: @TB_Times or @TBOcom Facebook: Instagram: @TampaBayTimes

Share with us

We want to know what you are hearing, seeing and experiencing. If a storm hits and you are able to safely get photos or videos, please share them with us. Do so in the following ways: Twitter: Mention @TB_Times or @TBOcom Twitter and Instagram: Use #TBTNewsAlert Facebook: Use our Facebook “News Tips” form on our official page, Email:

Tampa Bay Times | Sunday, May 14, 2017 |


Before storm hits, gather up vital supplies BY ANASTASIA DAWSON

Times Staff Writer

Floridians had 11 hurricane-free years to stock up on canned goods, batteries and first aid kits before Hurricane Hermine struck the west coast in September. Then a more powerful Hurricane Matthew hammered the east coast of Florida in October. Those two storms wreaked havoc on homemade “hurricane kits” throughout the state in 2016. That’s why experts said it’s even more important that Floridians restock their emergency supplies well before blue skies turn to a menacing gray. “You never know when a hurricane or any disaster will force you to leave your home at a moment’s notice,” said Brady Smith, principal planner with the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council. “But if that time comes, you don’t want to be scrambling to pack up everything you need.” Smith said each household should keep a durable cooler or other portable container stocked with enough supplies to sustain each family member for up to seven days after a storm strikes. • Start with seven gallons of water per person — enough for one gallon of water a day for each person for up a week should water supplies become contaminated. Also be sure to take out plenty of cash well before any potential storms knock out power. • Stock up on powdered sports drinks high in electrolytes and high-calorie, nonrefrigerated food items like protein bars, peanut butter and canned goods that will help maintain energy in humid conditions. Keep in mind, though, that emergency food supplies should be replaced every six months, as should any pet food, baby food, infant formula and other dietary items. “And make sure you have a manual can opener, not one that requires electricity,” Smith said. “It sounds silly, but especially if you’ve had a hurricane kit for years, you need to double- and triple-check that you have enough batteries,


| Sunday, May 14, 2017 | Tampa Bay Times

you’ve got the can opener, your food isn’t all expired.” • At the start of hurricane season, make sure you have an ample supply of any prescriptions and keep an updated list of all medicines and dosages for each family member. In Florida, doctors can provide a 90-day supply for most medications, and the planning council recommends storing enough to last two weeks. • Also stock up on common household items and first aid supplies, such as hand sanitizer, toilet paper, garbage bags, insect repellent and sunscreen. • Camping and survivalist items such as waterproof matches, handcrank radios, external cellphone chargers, solar chargers and waterproof gadget cases could become necessities when riding out a storm at home. • Fill up extra gallons of gasoline to take the guesswork out of getting out of town when gas stations are closed. Make sure any containers used to store gasoline are approved by the U.S. Department of Transportation and hold no more than 5 gallons, are secured at least 50 feet away from any ignition sources with a tightly fitting cap and are kept at room temperature out of direct sunlight. Tampa Fire Rescue warns against leaving small amounts of gasoline in a gas can, or filling a can to more than 95 percent capacity to allow expansion. If you have to drive with a gas can, securely fasten it in an upright position on the top of your car or car rack if possible to avoid the possibility of fumes accumulating inside the car. Tampa Fire officials say gas cans should always be placed on the ground a safe distance away from people and vehicles when being filled, never inside the bed of a truck or car trunk. And remember that deadly carbon monoxide gas created by generators and other gasoline-powered appliances accumulates quickly. Never run a generator inside, or .




continued from 10 even in an attached structure such as a garage or barn. Generators should sit at least 15 feet away from your house in a dry, cool location with the exhaust pointing away from any windows, doors or vents. • If you do evacuate, make sure to prepare to take your pets with you well in advance of a storm. Keep in mind that pet-friendly shelters require documentation showing all vaccinations are up to date, and most require pet owners to provide their own crate and food. Prepare instructions for any dietary or medical needs and register and microchip your pet in case you become separated. Smith also suggests carrying a picture of you with your pet for identification purposes should they wander off.

• Smartphone photos of your home can also come in handy if you need to provide an inventory of damaged valuables for an insurance claim. But if you lose power, keeping printed photos helps in a pinch. • Keep all essential documents with you as you seek shelter, including Social Security cards, drivers’ licenses, birth certificates, passports, immigration documents, and a copy of your insurance policy with your agent’s name and contact information. You should also scan and store documents to portable hard drives and cloud services like Google Drive, iCloud and Dropbox. • Be sure to have a bag packed with clothes, pillows, sleeping bags and any other comfort items that you would need to make your stay in a hurricane shelter more comfortable. • Above all, every household should have a portable radio to

Emergency checklist … Pillow … Portable freshwater container

… Rain poncho

… Portable battery-operated chargeable radio/walkietalkie

… Sleeping bag

… Water purification tablets

… Batteries

… Portable battery-operated fan

… Portable camping stove

… Waterproof matches and lighter

… Cooler/ice chest

… Freeze dried food kit

… Insect repellent … Flashlight … Battery-operated lantern

receive emergency communications broadcast from local officials and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Weather Radio All Hazards (NWR) radio network, said Tampa Fire Rescue emergency planner John Antapasis.

… Solar-panel charger for electronic items

• You may also want to keep some old-fashioned entertainment around, something that doesn’t require a Wi-Fi signal and an iPad. “A lot of these items are already laying around the house, but taking a few minutes to get them orga-

… Portable ice kit

nized into one kit will take a lot of worry out of hurricane season,” Antapasis said. “Then, once you get the basics, stock up on board games like Monopoly to keep everyone entertained if you end up trapped in a house without power.”

Tampa Bay Times | Sunday, May 14, 2017 |


Protecting valuables a top priority BY CLAIRE MCNEILL

Times Staff Writer

Longtime Floridians know the drill. Each year, as the heat and humidity build, forecasters begin their warnings: Hurricane season is upon us, and you’d better take it seriously. Sure, it was easy to tune out the advice when, year after year, storms skirted past Florida. The Tampa Bay area hasn’t had a direct strike in almost a century. Let the 2016 storm season serve as a warning: Destructive hurricanes lashed both Florida coasts. The bay area also endured flooding,


especially in Pasco County. What’s at stake in a storm is just about everything you own — your irreplaceable wedding photos, your pets, your windows and watercrafts. And when a hurricane is bearing down, you won’t have much time to make sure they’re protected. Here are some specifics to guide you through the critical process of keeping your home, your boat and your belongings safe this hurricane season.

Protect your home • Act fast: Everybody else will flood the same hardware stores to buy

| Sunday, May 14, 2017 | Tampa Bay Times

storm supplies. • If you’re boarding your windows with plywood, don’t drill directly into the frame. That lets water inside. Instead, apply bolts, nails or screws to concrete or wood about every 6 inches. • If you’re in a rush, don’t waste time taping your windows. Experts say it doesn’t keep them from shattering (though it may make cleanup easier afterward). • Need to brace your garage door? You can buy a kit from a homeimprovement store. Experts recommend using wooden 2 by 4s to brace the door horizontally and vertically.

• French doors and double doors are additional vulnerable spots that need to be reinforced. Add extra locks or slide bolts, and pay extra attention to doors that swing inward. • Give your roof and eaves a close look. The impact of a storm will likely accelerate any damage. Same goes for broken trusses or beams. Make repairs before a storm is bearing down. • Secure any loose items on your lawn. Hurricane-force winds will take old tree limbs, sports equipment and lawn ornaments and turn them into window-shattering pro-

jectiles. Don’t put your home (and your neighbors’ homes) at risk.

Protect your documents • Grab a pen and paper and make a list of your important documents, then make copies of each one. When a hurricane hits, you don’t want to be scrambling to find the papers that prove your identity and verify what you own. That means insurance policies, car titles, important receipts, passports, Medicare cards, appraisal documents, medical paperwork, birth certificates, tax returns, Social .


Preparing your house If you protect every opening in your house with shutters or impact-resistant windows that meet the current building code, your house stands a good chance of surviving a hurricane intact.

Trusses and beams

Hurricane straps

Repair or replace trusses or beams that have cracks, large knots or insect damage. To make temporary repairs, nail 8-foot-long (or longer) 2 by 4s on both sides of the damaged truss or beam.

These metal straps hold the roof frame to the walls of your house. They are found where the trusses meet the walls. Look for loose, rusting or missing straps.






Gable ends


Inspect windows and shutters to make sure they are in working condition. Practice putting up all your shutters to make sure they fit and you have all the hardware.



Tiles and shingles

Repair cracked or missing roof tiles or loose asphalt shingles.

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6 7


Be prepared to secure your boat at home, place it in a safe harbor, or store it at a marina or dock.


Around the yard


Gather outside furniture, garbage cans and other potential debris and move them inside. Ask your neighbors to do the same.

8 5


Nails and plywood



Trees and shrubs

Cut limbs or trees that could fall against your house.



Reinforce wood gable ends. Connect 2 by 4s to trusses and roof beams to provide better strength against wind.


Resin-coated nails should be used at six-inch intervals to attach plywood to trusses. Poorly attached plywood is likely to blow off under hurricane conditions, exposing the attic and house interior to damage.



Inspect doors to make sure they are in good condition. Add extra locks or slide bolts to inward-swinging doors. French doors and double doors are especially vulnerable.



Replace gravel with shredded bark.

Garage doors

Protect garage doors with hurricane panels, or reinforce the door from the inside with wood studs or metal braces attached lengthwise. Make sure that the grooved runners in which the door’s wheels travel are firmly attached to the wall. Times

Tampa Bay Times | Sunday, May 14, 2017 |


Power generators Many Floridians turn to portable generators during power outages. Before you buy one, here are a few things to consider.

How portable generators work

How standby generators work

Portable generators generally run on liquid fuel, such as gas or diesel, and have several outlets into which home appliances are plugged. A qualified electrician can also connect one directly to your home. To do this, a manual transfer switch must be installed to direct power to the house from either the utility lines or the generator. This prevents electricity from flowing back to utility lines and shocking workers fixing the outage.

Besides the amount of power you need, your budget is important to consider when buying a generator. Some models and their prices:


When the power is lost, a panel turns on the stand by generator.


This generator sends power directly into the house. Ryobi Wattage output: 3,600 Fuel capacity: 4 gallons Run time per tank: 8.5 hours at 50% load Voltage: 120 Circuits/outlets: 5 Price: $399

1 The power

The generator’s power inlet box may be installed here or outside the house. Main service panel

from the utility company comes into the house through the meter box.

Transfer switch

The right size for you Small (3,550 watts): Refrigerator, TV, window AC, 4 lights (75 watts each)

Medium (5,500 watts): Refrigerator, TV, window AC, 8 lights (75 watts each), stove top (single element), deep freezer, clock radio

How to buy

| Sunday, May 14, 2017 | Tampa Bay Times

Standby generator Wattage output: 7,500-22,000 Fuel: Liquid propane or natural gas Price: $1,850-$4,700 (plus installation) Weight: 380-500+ pounds

Safety tips Large (7,550 watts): Refrigerator, TV, window AC, 8 lights (75 watts), stovetop (single element), deep freezer, clock radio, water well pump, garage door opener, personal computer

■ Always run your generator outdoors in a well-ventilated area. ■ Regularly maintain your generator engine. ■ Keep gas fresh.

Sources: South Florida Sun-Sentinel, West Miami Discount Tool, Master Distributors, Briggs & Stratton, The Home Depot,, Cummings Inc.


Generac GP5500 Wattage output: 5,500 Fuel capacity: 7.2 gallons Run time per tank: 10 hours at 50% load Voltage: 120/240 Circuits/outlets: 5 Price: $689

■ Do not operate near combustible materials. ■ Place generator on level ground. ■ Never plug your generator directly into your house circuit.

■ Use extension cords that are grounded and are a sufficient wire gauge for the application. Heavy-duty, outdoor-rated cords are best.


Protecting your boat Boat owners should plan early to avoid congestion on the water and on the road. Never try to ride out a storm on a boat. Securing your boat at home

Add weight to the boat by filling no more than halfway with water. Overfilling can damage the trailer.

If you can put your boat in a garage, that’s your best option. If you must leave your boat on a trailer, remove important papers, equipment and anything that could blow away. Park the trailer near the building. Lash it down with chains or heavy ropes, away from objects that could fall on it.

Remove outboard motors.

Let some air out of the tires and place blocks beneath the wheels to prevent the trailer from rolling.

Securing your sailboat at the marina Experts say that it’s always best to store your boat during a hurricane. Here’s what to do when hauling your boat out of the water isn’t an option. Dock



“Spider web” techique: Boats left in boat slips shoud be secured by ropes in an arrangement that resembles a spider web. This allows boats to be bounced around by a storm yet still remain in position.

Finding a safe harbor If you can’t remove your boat from the water, move it to a safe refuge if possible. Emergency authorities will announce over marine radio details of flotilla plans, which are designed to move the largest number of boats in the shortest period of time. Ground traffic gets priority in an evacuation, and drawbridges are locked down within hours, which severely limits boat traffic.

Sources: Sun-Sentinel,, BoatUS Marine Insurance



PROTECT continued from 14

Security cards — the list goes on. Don’t forget your pets’ paperwork. • If you’re evacuating, take photos of your home and belongings before you go. Print them out, if possible. • Your smartphone and email won’t be much help if the power is off for an extended period of time. That makes it even more important to have physical copies of your documents on hand to help speed up the process of reporting storm damage. • It helps to have electronic scans of your documents, which the IRS accepts, saved on an external hard drive as a backup. You can also back up files on the cloud through free and paid services such as Dropbox and Google Drive. • Sporting goods stores sell watertight bags that can protect your paperwork and photos, and stocks airtight, watertight and “crushproof” cases. Some tackle and ammunition boxes with O-ring seals can also keep documents safe from water.

Protect your boat • The best course of action is to move your boat inland far in

advance of a storm. Look for dry storage in a marina or garage. • If you’re short on time, take your boat up creek or a river — mitigating the effects of storm surge, which raises the water level and can break deck lines. Operate cautiously, and know that drawbridges can lock down many hours before gale-force winds begin. • Leaving your boat tied up at the marina invites more risk, but you can minimize the damage. Ensure your deck lines are strong — this is not a time to take chances. Extralong “spring” lines help during major tidal fluctuations and are a good investment. Remove all valuables, disconnect electronics and put away loose items, such as sails and cushions. • After the storm, remember that buoys and channel markers may have shifted. Drive your boat slowly, as if you’re in a no-wake zone, and keep a close watch for debris, fallen trees, wrecked boats and other dangers. Information from Times files was used in this report. Contact Claire McNeill at Tampa Bay Times | Sunday, May 14, 2017 |


Pets depend on you to plan ahead BY SARA DINATALE

Times Staff Writer

When it’s storming outside, your cats and dogs will (likely) be hiding under the bed instead of preparing themselves for an evacuation. It’s not their job to get ready for a hurricane. It’s your job to get them ready. “Your pets are your responsibility just as much as the other members of your family,” said Dr. Sonja Olson, a senior clinician for BluePearl Veterinarian Partners, “and part of that responsibility is to be prepared.” • Think of what your pet will need to get by for a few days: Bring extra food and sealable bags to store it in; think two weeks of regular food and four weeks if your pet is on a prescription diet; also get a month’s supply of your pet’s prescription medication; your


| Sunday, May 14, 2017 | Tampa Bay Times

pet will also need its own supply of bottled water, just like the rest of the family, but also bowls to drink out of; and a favorite toy or blanket. • But what if you’re separated from your pet during a storm? SPCA Tampa Bay recommends having .

See PETS, 19

PETS continued from 18

These Tampa Bay evacuation shelters take pets:


Hillsborough County

your pets microchipped in case you lose them. Make sure you have the contact information for your microchip provider to help you locate your missing animal. Also make sure to give your most current contact information to the pet recovery service. • Have a pet carrier ready, along with leashes, harnesses, a portable litter box or whatever else you may need to make travel as easy as possible. • The Humane Society of Tampa Bay has checklists for different kinds of animals (even horses) on its website (humanesocietytampa. org), if you’re worried you might forget something in the chaos. • The most important thing, according to veterinarians, is having a plan of where you and your animals can go long before a storm hits. Remember: Most shelters don’t take pets, so you need to plan your evacuation ahead of time. Ideally, this would be a friend or family member’s home who lives on higher ground or away from any potential danger. Chances are, that’s where you and your

Sgt. Smith Middle School, 14303 Citrus Pointe Drive, Tampa Bartels Middle School, 9020 Imperial Oak Blvd., Tampa Shields Middle School, 15732 Beth Shields Way, Ruskin Burnett Middle School, 1010 N Kingsway Road, Seffner

Hernando County

D.S. Parrott Middle School, 19220 Youth Drive, Brooksville

Pasco County

Fasano Regional Hurricane Shelter, 11611 Denton Ave., Hudson

Pinellas County

Oak Grove Middle School, 1370 S Belcher Road, Clearwater John Hopkins Middle School, 701 16th St. S, St. Petersburg Dunedin Middle School, 70 Patricia Ave., Dunedin


animals will be most comfortable. You can also seek out animal friendly hotels and motels. There are certain shelters in Hillsborough, Pinellas and Pasco counties that allow animals, but generally only dogs and cats. They typically fill up on a first-come, firstserve basis. Often, these shelters will want your pet’s updated records for proof of shots or their county license, so have those on hand. Looking out for pets during a hurricane became a big issue when Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast in 2005. Many stayed behind to protect their pets, and those who evacuated weren’t able to get back to their pets for weeks. Left by themselves, an estimated 250,000 dogs and cats were displaced by the storm, according to the ASPCA, or died because of Katrina. That’s why the experts say it’s best to have a plan (and a backup plan) for you and your animals before a storm hits. Contact Sara DiNatale at sdinatale@ Follow @sara_dinatale.

Tampa Bay Times | Sunday, May 14, 2017 |


Be prepared, stay informed As I wrote to you this time last year, Florida was basking in a nearly 10-year long drought of land-falling hurricanes. Well that streak came to an end during the 2016 Atlantic basin hurricane season as Tropical Storm Hermine passed by our coast and then strengthened to a minimal hurricane right before it made landfall in the Panhandle. BOBBY Hermine, Colin DESKINS and Mathew 10Weather all made close passes to us last WTSP year, but fortunately we weathered those storms and came out fairly unscathed. As we enter the 2017 hurricane season we can hope for the best, but we must plan for the worst. The Atlantic hurricane season begins each year on June 1 and ends on Nov. 30. The forecasts for this season are suggesting an aver-


| Sunday, May 14, 2017 | Tampa Bay Times

age to slightly below average number of storms. The average number of named storms each season is 12, with six of those becoming hurricanes and three of those strengthening to major or Category 3 hurricanes with winds over 111 mph. Having said that, it is important to remember that it only takes one storm to cause major damage and disrupt our lives. Do you remember Hurricane Andrew in 1992? That was a slow season that only produced seven named storms, but Andrew was the first and deadliest as it slammed into South Florida with winds in excess of 165 mph and caused over $26 billion in damage. We may be lucky and never see an Andrew type storm in our area in our lifetime, but must be prepared for one just in case. One of the reasons that forecasts are trending toward a quieter season is because of the potential for El NiĂąo to develop this summer. El NiĂąo is the warming .


Tampa Bay Times | Sunday, May 14, 2017 |



DESKINS continued from 20

of the equatorial waters in the Pacific Ocean just west of South America. One main effect that El Niño produces is enhanced wind shear over the tropical regions of the Atlantic Ocean. Wind shear makes it difficult for storms to form and can even shear apart

tropical systems. El Niño is not a guarantee that a high wind shear environment will dominate the season, but rather an indicator that only suggests what atmospheric conditions may be like in the tropics. Because of the uncertainty of

something fun.

what Mother Nature may bring, we want to help get you prepared and we want to keep you informed as we track tropical waves across the warm waters of the tropics. What you can do is have a plan. Know where you would go if you were asked to evacuate. Know what you would take with you, your families’ needs, your medical needs and your work responsibilities. Make

that plan now while the tropics are quiet and you have time to make a kit, prep the house and inform your family. Preparation is the key to the health and safety of your family as we never know when we will need to put those plans in place. Stay tuned to 10News WTSP for the latest updates as our team tracks the tropics. If something does develop, don’t panic. Instead, know that we will walk you through the forecast without scaring you and we’ll give you useful information that will make you smarter, better informed and more prepared for the potential storm. I have tracked hurricanes up and down the East Coast and along the gulf and I know what it’s like to be nervous as storms approach our area. Trust us to guide you through the storm and help you protect your family and property. Stick with 10News WTSP on air, online at, through our app and in the newspaper. Here’s to a quiet 2017 hurricane season! Bobby Deskins is a meteorologist with 10Weather WTSP. Follow him @ BobbyDWeather, follow 10News WTSP at @10NewsWTSP or look for #WTSP.


| Sunday, May 14, 2017 | Tampa Bay Times

Tampa Bay Times | Sunday, May 14, 2017 |



| Sunday, May 14, 2017 | Tampa Bay Times

Hurricane Guide - 2017  

Before a storm threatens Tampa Bay, you’ll want to be prepared. If a storm strikes, you’ll want to get out of town, or to a shelter. And aft...

Hurricane Guide - 2017  

Before a storm threatens Tampa Bay, you’ll want to be prepared. If a storm strikes, you’ll want to get out of town, or to a shelter. And aft...