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Fall Begins, But Hurricane Season Is Still Here

  The autumnal equinox arrived at 9:21 Central time on Thursday morning. But as we go from summer to fall, another season still has about ten more weeks to run. 

We remain in what’s considered the peak of the 2016 hurricane season in the Atlantic and Caribbean. Gerry Bell at the National Hurricane Center says moving into fall has zero effect.

“There’s really no relationship at all,” said Bell. “The peak of the hurricane season is August, September and October, so it’s a broad peak and the equinox just happens to coincide in September.”

This hurricane season has been a busy one including formation of Hermine, the first hurricane to make landfall in Florida in more than a decade. 

“We’ve seen 12 named storms, and the average is 12,” Bell said. “And we expect there will be more than 12 so that will be an above-normal number of named storms. But right now we’ve only have four hurricanes and one major hurricane [Gaston]. Those are a little below average, if the season were to end today. But of course, it’s not; there’s still a long way in this season to go.”

Two phenomena in the Pacific Ocean, El Nino and La Nina, have some impact on storms brewing in the Atlantic. But not so far in 2016.

“Right now, there’s no El Nino or La Nina,” Bell said. “Right now we’re seeing overall, a mixed set of conditions across the tropical Atlantic; wind and air pressure patterns that typically produce [a] kind of near-average season.” 

Two storms now in the Atlantic, tropical depression Karl and Tropical Storm Lisa, show paths that move away from the United States. Bell points to a deeper than average upper-level trough, or stronger than average low pressure over the western Atlantic.

For residents who live on the coastlines of the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico, preparation is essential even in the calmest of seasons.

“A prime example is 1992; the first storm of the year didn’t occur until August, and that was Hurricane Andrew,” said John Dosh, Escambia County’s Emergency Management Director. He and his counterparts have a pair of concerns: residents who have become complacent, and newcomers from further inland who have only seen hurricanes on The Weather Channel.

“That’s one of our main focuses, to educate people on what the impacts are; how to prepare and those types of things,” said Dosh.  

Rule one is to have a plan for all emergencies, not only hurricanes. It should include supplies to get by for at least 72 hours after a storm, along with any needed documentation. 

“Water, a gallon per person per day for consumption,” said Dosh. Non-perishable food items, birth certificates, your insurance paperwork, have copies in your disaster kit. Medications for you, your family, and if you have pets.”

An emergency notification system, Alert Escambia, is available. Residents can sign up to receive notifications via text message, email or telephone. To subscribe, go to www.myescambia.com/be-ready.