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    We are just days away from hurricane season, and this year we are having a small break from taxes on certain items when prepping! As part of a $47.7 million tax package that was approved in March by Florida lawmakers allows Floridians a tax holiday for hurricane disaster-preparation. The tax holiday will continue for seven days long, starting on Friday May 29th.  FEMA’s storm prep list includes items like flashlights, batteries, portable radios, water and food supplies, and more. “Social distancing and other (federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) guidance to keep you safe from COVID-19 may impact the disaster preparedness plan you had in place, including what is in your go-kit, evacuation routes, shelters and more,” Carlos Castillo, acting deputy administrator for resilience for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said in a prepared statement. “With tornado season at its peak, hurricane season around the corner, and flooding, earthquakes and wildfires a risk year-round, it is time to revise and adjust your emergency plan now.” Shoppers can avoid taxes on items such as reusable ice packs that cost $10 or less; flashlights and lanterns costing $20 or less; gasoline and diesel fuel containers costing $25 or less. coolers and batteries costing $30 or less; and radios and tarps costing $50 or less. The full list is available here. We hope everyone has a SAFE and uneventful hurricane season! Stay prepared!
  • Tropical Storm Bertha formed off the coast of Charleston, South Carolina, early Wednesday, becoming the second named storm before the official start of this year’s Atlantic hurricane season. The storm moved inland shortly after forming. The National Hurricane Center issued a tropical storm warning for South Carolina’s coast and the storm was expected to bring heavy rainfall to North Carolina on Wednesday and Thursday. Officials said the biggest threat from Bertha will be heavy rainfall, along with tropical storm-force winds along portions of the South Carolina coast. Bertha’s maximum sustained winds are near 45 mph but it’s expected to weaken to a tropical depression after moving inland. Several counties across the Charlotte region are under a flash flood watch. North Carolina could see widespread rain by Wednesday afternoon and there will be a rip current risk along the Atlantic coast. Bertha started off as a low-pressure system and developed very quickly Wednesday morning thanks to warm ocean temperatures. Earlier this month, Tropical Storm Arthur brought rain to North Carolina, according to The Associated Press. It was the sixth straight year that a named storm has developed before June 1, Another system will keep rain falling in North Carolina on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, tapering off early Sunday morning. The rain will be on and off or scattered at times.
  • By the time a hurricane is born, it most likely already has a name. In fact, storms are named as soon as their sustained wind speeds reach 39 mph, in other words, when they reach tropical storm status. NAMING OF A STORM The practice of naming storms in the northern Atlantic Ocean started in 1959 by the National Hurricane Center, but the actual name lists are provided by the World Meteorological Organization based in Geneva. At first, only female names were used, but in 1979, male names were added to the list. Before 1959, the storms were given names based on a certain holiday it might have landed on or a region it affected. As you can imagine, name storms were left without a given name and unseen. After all, the first satellites were watching the tropics in the early 1960s. Currently, there are eight naming institutions that handle each region in the world. North Atlantic & Pacific - The National Hurricane Center (U.S.) handles the whole northern Atlantic Basin from the Caribbean to Europe. Central Pacific - The Central Pacific Hurricane Center U.S.) handles the area north of the equator to 140ºW - 180º Western Pacific - The Japan Meteorological Agency, PAGASA, handles the area from the equator to 60ºN, 180º-100ºE and 5ºN-21°N, 115°E – 135°E North Indian Ocean - The Indian Meteorological Department handles the area from the equator northward, 100ºE - 45ºE Southwest Indian Ocean - Mauritius Meteorological Services, Météo Madagascar and Météo France Reunion handles these areas, respectively: Equator – 40°S, 55°E – 90°E Equator – 40°S, African Coast – 55°E Equator – 40°S, African Coast – 90°E Australian region - Indonesian Agency for Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics, Papua New Guinea National Weather Service, Australian Bureau of Meteorology handles these areas, respectively: Equator – 10°S, 90°E – 141°E Equator – 10°S, 141°E – 160°E 10°S – 36°S, 90°E – 160°E Southern Pacific - Fiji Meteorological Service, Meteorological Service of New Zealand handles these areas, respectively: Equator – 25°S, 160°E – 120°W 25°S – 40°S, 160°E – 120°W South Atlantic - Brazilian Navy Hydrographic Center handles from the equator to 35°S and from the Brazilian coast to 20°W For the northern Atlantic Basin, there are six lists of names in rotation. Even-numbered years start with male names and odd-numbered years start with female names. When is a name retired? A hurricane doesn’t necessarily need to be a Category 3, 4 or 5 to be retired. The name is retired if a storm leaves major damage or deaths to avoid future confusion among the public. Since 1959, there have been 89 names retired. The most names retired in a single season was for the very active 2005 season. There have been 19 seasons without a name retired, and 2014 was the most recent. Names starting with the letter 'I' have been the most retired, 19 in total, and 11 of those have occurred since 2001. Wilma has been the name retired with the latest letter in the alphabet. Curious fact: Every year the World Meteorological Organization meets for a week in the spring, which is usually when they announce any retired names from the previous hurricane season. The 2020 meeting was canceled due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Therefore, there won´t be any names retired from the 2019 season yet. The organization plans to meet again in spring 2021, and they will review the storms from 2019 before making a decision to retire names. This is when storms like “Dorian,” “Lorenzo” and “Imelda” will likely be retired.
  •  There are many things we can do ahead of the hurricane season to prepare, and it is crucial to review your plans before the season starts. But during a pandemic, your plans might be altered or even changed. Although we know that positive cases are decreasing and restrictions are starting to ease, it would be simply catastrophic, in many levels, to be threatened by a hurricane while still having a significant amount of coronavirus cases in the community. Also, emergency managers are coming up with new ideas to design shelter in a way that would limit the potential spread of the virus. Keeping our health and emergency management officials become even more important while a hurricane is meandering nearby. What are Emergency Management officials doing to prepare? Kimberly Prosser is the director of emergency management of Brevard County, Florida, she spoke to certified meteorologist George Waldenberger and explained that in the case of a threatening hurricane, there could be up to 200 officials on the operations floor. “That’s not something that’s going to work in the age of COVID-19, so we’ll need to spread those people out, locate some people in other facilities,” she explained. Officials highlight the need to have ways of communication. A tropical storm or hurricane can significantly put a dent in our communications but preparing and strengthening these ahead of times is crucial. Officials highlight the need to have multiple ways of communication. How should residents prepare during COVID-19 times? The biggest challenge with COVID-19 and hurricane season is setting up safe sheltering while still practicing social distancing. This is not an easy task when many times people are set up in a school’s gym all together. Emergency management officials are looking for ways to perhaps provide more space for people to shelter, but they say that shelters, as usual, should be your last resort. This is stressed even more while the coronavirus is latent in our communities. Now is the time to think about what you would do if you live along the coast. Where would you go in case of an evacuation order? Do you still have a safe place to use as a shelter? Would your family and friends farther inland be willing to take you in while there is a virus going around? Would you have to go to a shelter? Perhaps, there is another option, like a hotel. Hurricane season officially starts on June 1. Now is the time to review your emergency preparedness plans.
  • Manatees are also known as sea cows, but these amphibious bovines were apparently moo-atees. Three cows that had been swept out to sea when Hurricane Dorian hit North Carolina on Sept. 6 were found alive. The cows apparently swam from Cedar Island to Cape Lookout National Seashore park on the Outer Banks, The New York Times reported. >> Read more trending news  The animals' caretaker, Woody Handcock, identified the cows as part of a herd of livestock that grazes on Cedar Island, the Times reported. They had been swept away, along with horses, by a water surge. Handcock believed most of the animals he cared for were dead. Shortly after the hurricane, only 28 of the 49 horses that lived on Cedar Island were found with 21 alive, the rest were killed. Those unaccounted for were also presumed dead, according to the Carteret County News-Times. The cattle were also presumed dead after they found the carcass of one bovine, the Carteret County News-Times reported at the time.
  • Strong winds and at least one reported tornado spawned by Tropical Storm Nestor slashed through central and southwest Florida late Friday and early Saturday. >> Read more trending news  The National Weather Service reported an EF0 tornado touched down in Polk County, located between Tampa and Orlando, at 11:21 p.m. Friday, according to The Ledger of Lakeland. The twister hopped across Interstate 4 near Lakeland and caused a semitrailer truck to flip onto the top of an SUV, the Tampa Bay Times reported. In Pinellas County, strong winds damaged some mobile homes and knocked down power lines, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office. No injuries were reported, Deputy Chuck Skipper told the Times. Roads were washed out in Florida's Panhandle as Nestor approached, WXTL reported. In southwest Florida, severe storms caused a roof to be blown off a home in Cape Coral on Saturday morning, WBBH reported.
  • Imagine a devastating hurricane headed toward the U.S. coast. >> Read more trending news  Winds are blowing at more than 100 mph, the skies are darkening and rain is beginning to fall, first as a steady downpour and then coming in sheets. As the storm moves even closer to landfall, the ocean churns record waves and a storm surge is pushed toward shore.Now, imagine throwing in an earthquake for good measure. That is the nightmare scenario scientists say is actually all too real, according to a study in the journal Geophysical Research Letters. The combination of a strong hurricane and an earthquake generating from the seabed even has a cool made-for-TV movie moniker – stormquakes. Something from the study that may surprise people is that the quakes are fairly common. They go unnoticed because they occur during a land-falling hurricane. 'This is the last thing you need to worry about,' Wenyuan Fan, a Florida State University seismologist who was the study's lead author, told The Associated Press. Here is what happens in a stormquake, according to Fan. While the dynamics of a hurricane produce massive waves in the open ocean, they also spark other types of waves. In certain place where there is a large continental shelf near shallow flat land, those waves can interact with the seafloor to produce an earthquake. According to the study, a little more than 14,000 stormquakes occurred between September 2006 and February 2015. Those quakes happened in the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic off Florida, New England, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador. They also tend to happen in the Pacific off the coast of British Columbia.  According to the study, the shaking of the seafloor during hurricanes and nor’easters can rumble like a magnitude 3.5 earthquake and last for days. Ocean-generated seismic waves show up on U.S. Geological Survey instruments, “but in our mission of looking for earthquakes, these waves are considered background noise,” seismologist Paul Earle, of the USGS National Earthquake Information Center in Golden, Colo, told The Associated Press.
  • Hurricane Dorian hit the Bahamas a month ago and now a dog is living up to its new name after recently being found buried beneath debris. A 1-year-old mix breed dog, now named Miracle, was found in Marsh Harbour last week.  >> Read more trending news  But another dog that was trapped with Miracle didn't make it, WPTV reported.  Crews from Big Dog Ranch Rescue found the emaciated dog under broken glass, an air conditioning unit and building wreckage by using a drone with infrared detection, CNN reported. Miracle was too weak to make a sound, but the dog's tail was wagging when rescuers were able to get to him, Palm Beach Post reported. They believe that Miracle was able to survive on rainwater and was found 'skeleton thin and unable to walk,' according to CNN. The rescue got the call Friday morning at 9:30 a.m. that Miracle had been found. They quickly had a plane on the ground in the Bahamas within an hour of that call and Miracle was at the southern Florida ranch by 1:38 p.m. that same day, WPTV reported.  Before he was flown to Florida, he had to be given fluids and some food, WPTV reported. Unless his owners claim him, Miracle will be listed for adoption once he makes a full recovery.  Big Dog Ranch Rescue is giving the dog medical and emotional support. The rescue group has saved 139 dogs since Hurricane Dorian hit the Bahamas in September. About 600 people are still listed as missing after the Category 5 storm, Palm Beach Post reported.
  • One couple has been dealing with flooding as the remnants of Tropical Storm Imelda as it sloshed through southeastern Texas. However, their concerns have an added twist. >> Read more trending news  A 6-foot alligator was circling the house in Jefferson County. 'There's a big one. And maybe a couple more,' Denise Broussard told the Houston Chronicle. 'I think he's under the house now.' Broussard's home is located across from Gator Country, a 15-acre alligator preserve, the newspaper reported. As the water level rose to three feet, Broussard's husband went outside to survey his yard after more than 41 inches of rain has been dumped in the area over the last 72 hours. That is when he saw the reptile. Broussard was able to snap a photo of the gator, the Chronicle reported. 'All I could see was the humongous head,' Broussard told the newspaper. 'Oh, my Lord. How are we going to get out of here.'. It's not the first time Broussard has faced flooding from a tropical system. Hurricane Harvey flooded her home in August 2017 and forced the couple to tear down and rebuild their home on a 5-foot platform, the Chronicle reported. Now, Broussard said she had to make sure her pets stayed inside the house. She also refuses to go outside. 'We're pretty much sitting ducks right now,' Broussard told the Chronicle on Thursday. 'We're surrounded. It looks like a lake property. 'I'm not stepping off that porch until I know there's no gator under our house.
  • An 85-year-old woman survived the waters of Hurricane Dorian for three days as she sat in her lounger while the storm lashed the Bahamas, clinging to her refrigerator to keep her head above water, the Sun-Sentinel reported.  >> Read more trending news  Virginia Mosvold was in her daughter's Freeport home when the Category 5 storm hit the Bahamas earlier this month, the newspaper reported. Family members, who had scrambled onto the home's rafters in the attic, were unable to lift Mosvold to higher ground. “We said goodbye to her a few times and told her we loved her,” Mosvold's daughter, Sissel Johnson told the Sun-Sentinel. “It’s by the grace of God that she survived.” Mosvold is now recovering from pneumonia and severe leg infections at a hospital in Hollywood, Florida, the newspaper reported. Dorian's storm surge lifted Mosvold off the top of the home's kitchen counter and into the ocean water, according to the Sun-Sentinel. “It came in like a tidal wave,” Johnson, 51, told the newspaper. “The water kept rising and rising.” When the water began to recede, Johnson and her husband moved Mosvold into a stable chair. George Johnson pulled siding off his home and scrawled 'Help' on it. Two feet of water remained in the residence. “We are very thankful our roof stayed on,' Johnson told the Sun-Sentinel. “We had pine trees and furniture floating in and out of the house with the current.” Eventually, friends were able to lift Mosvold in her lounger and took her to Rand Memorial Hospital in Freeport, which was running on a generator but had no running water, the newspaper reported. Mosvold and the Johnsons were flown to the South Florida hospital several days later. “Her kidneys were failing. She was dehydrated. She was in and out of consciousness,” Johnson told the Sun-Sentinel. Mosvold has been recovering slowly, her daughter said. Although she lost her hearing aid during the storm, hospital staff in Hollywood gave her a special hearing device so she can communicate with them. “Hopefully she will be able to overcome her challenges,” Johnson told the Sun-Sentinel. “She’s getting the best care she can get right now.”