Tropical hurricanes are the cause of untold misery and destruction mostly across the Caribbean basin and Gulf of Mexico. Hurricane forecasts for 2012 hurricane activity are quite varied, so we have undertaken a search to bring several to our readers, as well as noting improvements in evacuation planning. This may help those interested in personal and family preparedness to gather useful information. Even where family resources are minimal prior planning can greatly diminish fear and suffering.
As we continue to meet with US county level Emergency Planners, we find nearly universal agreement that one of the major and most thorny problems connected with evacuation scenarios is resettlement (temporary of permanent) of evacuees. Take counsel with friends and family so prior relocation arrangements are in place. We strongly urge those who live in coastal areas to engage the question of evacuation needs for their own household. Despite the best of intentions it is folly to believe that government planning can solve individual problems with what must of necessity be generalized response using limited resources.
We also remind the reader that not all forecasters agree on the likelihood of more or fewer storms and encourage a complete reading of this composition. If 2012 turns out to be another weak season for the US, some will be branded as alarmists, but if we experience even one major (cat 3 or greater) storm landfall in a heavily populated area....
From CBS Local (2012): Gray and Klotzbach also said the odds of at least one major hurricane hitting the U.S. coast was 48 percent. Historically, the average odds of a storm hitting the U.S. was 52 percent.
From Weather (2012): "NOAA’s outlook predicts a less active season compared to recent years," said NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco, Ph.D. "But regardless of the outlook, it’s vital for anyone living or vacationing in hurricane-prone locations to be prepared. We have a stark reminder this year with the 20th anniversary of Hurricane Andrew." Andrew, the Category 5 hurricane that devastated South Florida on August 24, 1992, was the first storm in a late-starting season that produced only six named storms.
From Florida Today: Not only does having three lanes of traffic in each direction reduce congestion on I-95 in an evacuation, Olson said, but it also creates more flexibility if emergency planners want to reverse some traffic lanes. For example, if a hurricane is moving north from Miami, they might want to temporarily make one or two of the southbound I-95 lanes from Miami to Daytona Beach northboard because that is the direction most of the traffic will be heading.
From Texas Tribune (2012): Hurricane season, which began June 1, extends to Nov. 30. The drill was the end result of months of planning between the department and leaders from coastal communities. TxDOT pointed to the drill and other measures it is enacting, such as an increased push into social media, as evidence of its readiness for the 2012 hurricane season.
Jordan said that the contraflow plans are generally practiced on paper, but this year TxDOT decided to put the plan into practice as thoroughly as possible. Though no traffic was actually reversed, a patrol car traveled down the southbound lane to clear traffic, and workers and barricades were deployed at every exit along the 142-mile stretch of highway.
“Some drivers definitely thought there were some VIPs going though,” Jordan said. Jordan said that had an actual reversal been ordered, the process may have been completed faster than six hours, because local leaders would have more authority to muster responders and resources.
From Northeast-Weather: Another major factor contributing to the 2012 Atlantic Hurricane Season Forecast is the Bermuda ridge; the steering force behind most Atlantic tropical cyclones. The Bermuda ridge is a large subtropical area of high pressure typically centered around Bermuda. This ridge steers Atlantic cyclones towards the United States from Africa and the Western Atlantic Ocean. This year, I am anticipating this ridge, along with cooler than normal sea surface temperatures, to suppress tropical cyclone development in the Western Atlantic Ocean. However, placement of the Bermuda ridge this year will likely encourage tropical cyclones to track into the Southeastern United States & Gulf Coasts, making these areas higher at risk than in years past.
From Miami-Dade Government (evacuation zones in detail):
Zone A (Red Zone) – Miami Beach, Virginia Key, Key Biscayne and all islands lying within Biscayne Bay including the municipalities of Golden Beach, Sunny Isles Beach, Bal Harbor, Bay Harbor Islands, Indian Creek Village, Surfside, North Bay Village, City of Miami Beach and the island portions of the City of Miami. (Note: That area west of the L-31N levee known as the 8 ½ Square Mile Area is ordered to evacuate because of its inaccessibility to rescue vehicles following a major storm.)
Zone B (Yellow Zone) – All areas of mainland Miami-Dade County lying (north to south) east of Biscayne Boulevard, Brickell Avenue, S. Miami Avenue, South Bayshore Drive, Main Highway, Ingraham Highway, Old Cutler Road, the Florida Turnpike south to U.S. 1 to State Road 9336 [SW 344 Street (Palm Drive), SW 192 Avenue (Tower Road) and Ingram Highway] south to Everglades National Park. The only exception to this pattern is a small area east of Old Cutler Road, west of SW 67 Avenue and north of SW 152 Street that is not in the evacuation zone.
Zone C (Green Zone) – The area of Miami-Dade County west of Zone B and a line defined by SW 152 Street (Coral Reef Drive) at Old Cutler Road going west to U.S. 1, then south to SW 184 Street (Eureka Drive), then west to SW 127 Avenue (Burr Road), then south to U.S. 1 to SW 312 Street (Campbell Drive or Homestead’s NW 8 Street), then west to Everglades National Park.
From NOAA (A bit of history):
The Category 4 hurricane's eye moved directly over Miami Beach and downtown Miami during the morning hours of the 18th. This cyclone produced the highest sustained winds ever recorded in the United States at the time, and the barometric pressure fell to 27.61 inches as the eye passed over Miami. A storm surge of nearly 15 feet was reported in Coconut Grove. Many casualties resulted as people ventured outdoors during the half-hour lull in the storm as the eye passed overhead. Most residents, having not experienced a hurricane, believed that the storm had passed during the lull. They were suddenly trapped and exposed to the eastern half of the hurricane shortly thereafter. Every building in the downtown district of Miami was damaged or destroyed. The town of Moore Haven on the south side of Lake Okeechobee was completely flooded by lake surge from the hurricane. Hundreds of people in Moore Haven alone were killed by this surge, which left behind flood waters in the town for weeks afterward.
The hurricane continued northwestward across the Gulf of Mexico and approached Pensacola on September 20th. The storm nearly stalled to the south of Pensacola later that day and buffeted the central Gulf Coast with 24 hours of heavy rainfall, hurricane force winds, and storm surge. The hurricane weakened as it moved inland over Louisiana later on the 21st. Nearly every pier, warehouse, and vessel on Pensacola Bay was destroyed.
We could go on but perhaps this is sufficient to remind our readers and encourage them to share this post with other interested persons.