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Hurricane season doesn't officially start until June 1, but preparations are already underway. The National Weather Service outlined some new ways it's warning Floridians about possible danger at a briefing Tuesday in Tampa. 

Florida Dodges Hurricanes - Again

Nov 26, 2015
photo of hurricane

The Atlantic hurricane season is coming to a close for the 10th consecutive year without Florida taking a direct hit.

Going from June 1 to Nov. 30 without a hurricane making landfall --- even though hurricanes can form outside the designated "season" --- is once again great news for residents and for the insurance industry.

But emergency-management officials say there isn't time to rest.

Cloudy patches from other kinds of disasters --- storm-related flooding and tornadoes --- could be on the winter and spring horizon.

A new but controversial study asks if an end is coming to the busy Atlantic hurricane seasons of recent decades.

The Atlantic looks like it is entering in to a new quieter cycle of storm activity, like in the 1970s and 1980s, two prominent hurricane researchers wrote Monday in the journal Nature Geoscience.

Hurricane Danny has gained a little strength as it moves across the Atlantic.

The busier months of the Atlantic Hurricane Season are here, but Florida Public Radio Meteorologist Jeff Huffman says confidence continues to grow that this year may not be very active. 

Few things are certain in our skies. But Thursday, lead forecaster Gerry Bell from NOAA says he is very confident in this year’s seasonal hurricane outlook.

"The likelihood for a below normal season has jumped from 70% in May to 90% with today's updated outlook", said Bell.

An upper-level tropical disturbance will drive deeper tropical moisture into the state starting Thursday afternoon, leading to locally strong thunderstorms over inland areas by early evening. Showers and thunderstorms are forecast to become more widespread and heavier Friday and Saturday, especially near the coastlines where sea breeze interactions could enhance the rainfall.

Tropical depression or storm formation with this weather feature is highly unlikely, but it will be watched closely. In the eastern Atlantic, a new tropical wave approaching the Cape Verde islands has a medium chance of developing over the weekend. This disturbance poses no imminent threat to the United States in the next five days.

Invest 96 has a medium chance of developing into a tropical storm by the weekend, and long range forecast models are beginning to hint at a potential threat to portions of the Caribbean and maybe even the U.S. early next week. Specifics in a forecast track or strength of Invest 96 is premature at this point, but it should be noted that this particular disturbance is more likely to take a different path than many of its predecessors, possibly yielding a different result. Floridians are encouraged to stay informed on the latest developments with Invest 96 over the coming days.

Ten years ago Wednesday, (Aug. 13),  Hurricane Charley swirled its way inland through the quaint DeSoto County town of Arcadia. Sustained winds of a hundred miles an hour ripped down walls and roofs from its historic main street - dealing a major blow to its antiques district. WUSF's Steve Newborn was there in the aftermath, and returned a decade later to see how the town has changed.

Ten years ago, the grind of buzz saws was the sound heard most often in Arcadia

Depression Two dissipates, Remnant Wave Moving West

Jul 23, 2014

The National Hurricane Center issued its final advisory on Tropical Depression Two midday Wednesday, stating that there was no longer a closed circulation and that dry air had caused it to weaken. The remnants of this system, now nothing more than a tropical wave with showers and breezy conditions, will approach the Lesser Antilles tomorrow and could eventually drift toward Florida some time next week. At this time, however, no new tropical storm formation is expected anywhere in the Atlantic Basin over the next five days.

The 2014 Atlantic hurricane season is now officially upon us. And it comes in the midst of a historic lull.

Time explains that it's been 3,142 days since a Category 3 hurricane or stronger made landfall in the United States. The last one was Hurricane Wilma, which at its peak had winds of 185 mph and made landfall in Florida in 2005.

"That's an unprecedented streak, going back to 1900—the longest drought before the current one was nearly 1,000 days shorter," Time goes on.

Drones are Newest Hurricane Research Tools

May 31, 2014

 The point where the roiling ocean meets the fury of a hurricane's winds may hold the key to improving storm intensity forecasts - but it's nearly impossible for scientists to see.

Tropical storms are migrating out of the tropics, reaching their peak intensity in higher latitudes, where larger populations are concentrated, a new NOAA-led study published in the journal Nature says.

Florida's state-created fund intended to help private insurers pay out claims after a hurricane has billions in the bank as hurricane season starts, indicating it's capable of withstanding a big storm this year.

New estimates show the Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund should have nearly $13 billion available for the Atlantic hurricane season that starts June 1.

"We are very strong at this point and very capable of handling a large event," said Jack Nicholson, chief operating officer for the fund.

Floridians would get a 15-day sales tax holiday on hurricane preparedness supplies ranging from portable generators to radios this coming June under a proposal outlined Monday by Gov. Rick Scott.

Scott, making the announcement at a Miami lumber and hardware store, said the measure would save taxpayers about $20 million and is part of the Republican governor's overall plan to cut taxes by $500 million this year. The tax break would have to be approved by the Legislature.

Florida is ending this year's storm season with some good news.

The state-created fund that backs up private insurers in Florida remains in the best financial shape it has been since it was created 20 years ago.

New estimates drawn by financial consultants and Wall Street firms suggest the fund can borrow enough money to cover its obligations for the hurricane season that ends next month. Insurers are required to purchase coverage from the fund.

Florida’s private homeowners’ insurance market is “the worse it’s ever been” in the past five years according to Michael Letcher, president of the Home Insurance Buyers Guide.

“To me, the health of the market isn’t how many policies are available in the private market but what kind of choice does a customer have and what kind of ability do we all have to shop our policies,” Letcher said.

Letcher had his home insurance canceled after Hurricane Wilma when his insurance company left Florida.

Dalia Dangerfield / Bay News 9

Andrea, the first tropical storm of the 2013 Atlantic hurricane season, is drenching the Bay Area, bringing some tornado damage along with it.

The entire Tampa Bay area is under a tropical storm warning. There's also a flood watch through 8 p.m. and a tornado watch until 11 a.m.

The National Hurricane Center reported Andrea was about 160 miles west of Tampa Bay at 7 a.m., moving to the northeast at 14 miles per hour, with 60 MPH sustained winds with stronger gusts. It's expected to make landfall north of Levy County by Thursday evening.

Today marks the beginning of the six-month Atlantic hurricane season. Maybe it's a good sign, then, that it's pretty quiet out there. The National Hurricane Center is watching only a small wave near Mexico that has a low possibility of developing into a tropical system.

NPR's Debbie Elliott, however, reports the season is expected to be pretty busy. She filed this report for our Newscast unit:

Hurricane Survival Education Can Prevent Devastation

May 31, 2013

How equipped are you to survive hurling winds and raging storms that could shred your neighborhood?

Hillsborough County along with the city of Tampa will be hosting the 2013 Tampa Bay Hurricane Expo Saturday  at the Museum of Science and Industry

TS Isaac Could Turn Hurricane by Thursday

Aug 22, 2012
National Hurricane Center

Tropical storm Isaac is in the Atlantic near the Island of Guadalupe. It could head to Tampa Bay by Monday as a hurricane.

Dennis Feltgen, spokesman for the National Hurricane Center in Miami, says Isaac may not be a tropical storm for long...

"It is moving into an area which is favorable for strengthening and we would expect Isaac to become a hurricane probably sometime late Thursday or on Friday," he says.

Feltgen says it's still too early to tell if Isaac will hit Tampa Bay early next week- the start of the Republican National Convention.

Courtesy of NOAA

Hurricane Ernesto is now fading away into interior Mexico after making landfall late yesterday on the Yucatan Peninsula. But what about our chances to see a big storm? Those odds are going up - at least for now.

The word from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is we could see as many as 17 named storms before hurricane season ends in November. That's up from their initial prediction of nine storms.

El Niño Might Thwart Hurricane Season

Jul 5, 2012

Last month's Tropical Storm Debbie formed earlier than most big storms, and that had some people worried about this year's hurricane season. But El Niño may be coming to the rescue.

You've probably heard of El Niño. It's that weather phenomenon where parts of the Pacific Ocean warm up...and change the weather all across the United States.

Weather forecasters are saying El Niño may be forming out in the Pacific right now.

If that happens, Bay News 9's meteorologist Juli Marquez said, "it may prevent as many storms or hurricanes from forming or intensifying."