Out of all of Lakeland’s many seasons (tourism, alligator, Love Bug, citrus), I’m sure most will agree that hurricane season is the least favorite.
Running from the beginning of June to the end of November, it usually tends to be uneventful for the most part – except, of course – for that window of time between mid-August and early-October, when, like sitting ducks, we anxiously await whether the next Michael will roar onto our peninsula.
What to expect this year
However, this year, as we sit in the midst of a global pandemic, it looks like the 2020 hurricane season will be anything but a breeze. NOAA is predicting an above-normal Atlantic hurricane season with a range of 13-19 named storms, of which 6-10 could become hurricanes (winds of 74+ mph), including 3-6 major hurricanes (category 3, 4 or 5; with winds of 111+ mph). NOAA provides these ranges with a 70% confidence.
As we head into the danger zone, find strength in the fact that this ain’t our first rodeo. The Swan City has been nearly decimated by hurricanes several times over, but we should still make sure to have a plan in place, in case the worst does happen. Here are a few key ways to prepare:
How to be prepared
❓ Know the difference | Warning: Conditions are expected within 36 hours vs. Watch: Conditions are possible within 48 hours
⛑ Build an emergency kit | Water (1 gal. per person per day), non-perishable + easy to prepare food (canned soups + veggies, dried meats + fruits, crackers, granola bars, peanut butter, etc.), first-aid kit, flashlight, extra cash, and a multipurpose tool (like a can opener or Swiss Army Knife.) #ProTip: Take advantage of the tax free holiday to stock up.
🐶 Prepare your pets | Have enough water + food for your pets, and, if possible – have their vet records on hand + an ID tag on their collar.
📑 Safeguard important documents | Have copies with you in a sealed zip-lock bag (I.D., insurance card, etc.).
🗺 Have a plan | Go over how to contact your person/people if you get separated, set a meeting place, and know the evacuation routes.
📻 Stay informed | Have a portable radio or TV, or use your cell, to follow the National Weather Service, the National Hurricane Center + local weather services on social media.
📱Free apps that will keep you updated:
- Tides Near Me | Tide times + conditions
- AccuWeather: Weather Widget | Alerts, forecasts + animated radar maps
📝 Additional resources:
- Sign up for emergency alerts + notifications from Polk County here.
- Polk County’s full list of disaster readiness is available here. Find out where you can get sandbags and other resources.
- Be on the lookout for Lakeland Electric’s 2020 Hurricane Guide.
- “When a Hurricane Warning is issued, don’t freak out when the stores run out of bottled water. There is plenty of free-flowing tap water before the storm hits. Save plastic jugs (from juices and tea) prior to the season. Clean them with hot water and fill them yourself just before the conditions decline. If you don’t end up needing them, dump the water out, and save the jugs for next time.” – Reader John W.
- “Tuck water bottles in your freezer around foods before the storm. If the power goes out, it will help preserve your food and you’ll have cold water to drink.” – Reader Liz G.
Do you have a tip on how to handle hurricane season? Let us know by commenting below or sending us an email to [email protected].
From Reader Jaime J.: "I know my household of 5 teens and adults is in no way able to spend the extra money on supplies…
– LALtoday Team (Abby + Kaylee)