It’s far, far out in the Atlantic, so no one in the Keys should panic. But we must closely monitor Hurricane Irma, which on Friday was a Category 3 storm (sustained winds of at least 111 mph) heading west over the ocean.
National Hurricane Center forecasters will be the first to tell you they can’t predict with specificity where a storm will make landfall and as of Friday, Irma tracking models, while showing the direction the storm is moving, didn’t show a probable landing point. It could be somewhere in the Caribbean, it could be the Carolinas — or somewhere in between. No one knows.
But forecasters do agree on this: Irma will not be breaking up and will have a big impact somewhere. It reminds us that in the six-month hurricane season that started June 1, preparation is a necessity. Getting your plans together early instead of trying to take care of things at the last minute is not a smart idea.
Hurricane Harvey in Texas was an anomaly. On Aug. 23, Harvey was a tropical storm. Two days later on Aug. 25, it made landfall as a Category 4 (sustained winds of at least 131 mph) between Port Aransas and Port O’Connor. We’ve been watching the disaster unveil before our eyes ever since.
If anything should tell us to be prepared for possible disaster well before a storm threatens, Harvey is it. Now is a good time to re-check your family’s and business’ preparations — or to get a plan in place in case you don’t already have one. We offer these reminders (much more comprehensive information can be found at ready.gov):
Have an evacuation plan. Have a destination pre-chosen and let others know what it is. If you have a pet, check to see what hotels allow animals.
Be prepared to leave early and select your primary and alternate evacuation routes prior to leaving. Check all fluid levels in your car. Check your spare tire and tire-changing equipment. Take an adequate supply of food and water. Have sufficient cash to meet your needs.
If staying, these are some basics (this is just a minimal list; there are many other things to do):
Have waterproof containers for important documents and batteries for radios and flashlights. Get a first-aid kit.
Fill up your car with gas and get money from the bank because of the electricity goes out, so do the ATMs and credit-card machines.
Stay tuned to radio, TV or NOAA Weather Radio for official bulletins.
Board up garage and porch doors and move valuables to upper floors.
Fill containers (such as a bathtub) with several days' supply of drinking water.
Turn up the refrigerator to maximum.
Here’s hoping Irma stays away or at most just brushes us. But no one can predict what it will do. Preparation well in advance is the smart way to go.