Why Florida’s Meteorologists Remain Worried About 2013’s Weak Hurricane Season


Emergency relief officials are worried that Florida residents are becoming complacent due to a lack of hurricane landfalls this year.

Despite a prediction to the contrary, hurricanes have not been as prevalent in 2013 because there was more wind-shear than anticipated, as well as more Saharan dust being blown off of Africa than usual, limiting storm development.

“Wind shear are fast winds aloft that tend to rip the cloud tops of a system apart,” said UF Meteorologist Jeff Huffman. “Saharan dust blocks moisture from being ingested into a storm, which is critical for thunderstorm development and maturation.”

The 2013 hurricane season officially ended Nov. 30 as the sixth least active hurricane season since 1950 in terms of strength and duration of named storms. There were 13 named systems, two of which were hurricanes. The last named hurricane to hit Florida was in 2005: Hurricane Wilma.

Amy Godsey, state meteorologist for the Florida Division of Emergency Management, said because of the lack of storms, residents are developing “hurricane amnesia.”

“We have new visitors to Florida who have never experienced a hurricane before, or you tend to forget the impact,” she said. “People that went through Hurricane Charlie, or Frances and Jeanne in 2004, their recollection of what happens may be starting to wane as more years go by. It may lead to less preparedness, so that’s what we don’t want to happen.”

Aaron Gallaher, spokesman for the Division of Emergency Management in Florida, said the long stretch of time between hurricanes can lead people to forget possible dangers.

“Memories fade, and there comes a point when after not having been exposed to it, they forget how bad it could potentially be,” said Gallaher. “They will put their guard down in planning for these events.”

Having disaster relief information ahead of time can be really helpful for Florida residents when hurricanes strike.

“The one thing that might harm residents is not being prepared and not having a plan, or knowing if they are in a storm surge zone or not and how to evacuate,” Godsey said.

Godsey and Gallaher want to remind Florida residents that preparedness shouldn’t start and stop with hurricane season because there are other natural disasters that people should be wary of.

“Have a three-day pack of supplies to get you through the first 72 hours,” she said,  including water, canned food, non-perishable food, batteries, and flashlights.

About Courtney McKenna

Courtney is a reporter for WUFT News and can be contacted by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news@wuft.org.

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