Saturday, May 23, 2009

Countdown to the Season

Memorial Day Weekend in Florida is typically when the news media intensifies its coverage of the upcoming Hurricane Season. With 10 days to go the TV specials, special newspaper sections and "hurricane survival" preparation chatter reaches its pre-season pinnacle. For good reason.

This year's state-wide theme is: "Get a Plan"

In past years, this coming week (or the first week of June) would also be the time when the "tax holiday" would begin offering Floridians the opportunity to buy specific storm related items without paying sales tax. This would be a noticeable savings on large items such as generators or if you stocked up on large quantities of batteries, flashlights, tarps, coolers, plywood & the like. Not this year -- due to the state's recession-impacted operating budget. I know in my case that I am pretty well stocked from previous years so the tax savings wouldn't have been material for me. Here's the official list of items suggested to have on hand.

In some past years - and this year - we've had pre-season rainstorms that have provided us with much needed rainfall and put enough moisture on the ground to start the "rainy season" that typically runs parallel to Hurricane Season. Rainy season is what Florida is stereotypically known for - usually brief but intense afternoon thundershowers brought on by the day's heating and the clashing of sea breezes across the peninsula.

We've had a near record-setting 11 straight days of rain in the Tampa Bay area which has been sorely needed to refill our resevoirs & aquifer as well as get our brown grass to start growing again. Rain has been heavy enough in some counties that the Governor has declared a state of emergency in 11 Florida counties mostly in the Orlando area. It's expected to rain throughout the Memorial Day weekend and gradually begin to dry up a bit next week leading up to the June 1st kickoff.

This year's pre-season event even got to the point where weather forecasters thought it COULD turn into a named (Ana) "subtropical" storm as the weather system moved northwest across the state. This morning they are still keeping an eye on the system as it heads into the gulf and towards the Florida panhandle, but the odds are low that it will more than a soaking rain event. The past 2 years have brought about "named" storms prior to the June 1st:

2007: Andrea - Subtropical storm May 6-14 with wind up to 65 MPH
2008: Arthur - Tropical storm May 31-June 2 with wind up to 40 MPH

Memorial Day and pre-(Hurricane) season rain - it's a new Florida tradition!

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