With the official start of the Atlantic Hurricane Season on June 1, Miami-Dade’s Mayor Carlos Alvarez warned residents not to take a complacent attitude just because of the past two years have brought relatively quiet weather to the city.

He, like many of his colleagues throughout the region, reminds citizens that preparedness is key to surviving a hurricane -or any natural disaster.

Because of its location between two bodies of water with tropical activity, Miami has a strong statistical likeliness of being hit by a hurricane. But while affected by recent storms such as Ernesto (2006), Wilma (2005), and Andrew (1992), Miami’s most devastating hurricane was in 1926. Hurricane Cleo, which directly hit Miami in 1964, also caused significant damage to the area.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) predicts that this year’s hurricane season will be near or above normal levels in the Atlantic Basin, and stresses the importance of preparedness.

“Living in a coastal state means having to plan for each and every hurricane season,” says Conrad Lautenbacher, NOAA administrator. “Planning and preparation is the key to storm survival and recovery.”

Miami’s web site contains one of the best hurricane preparedness guides we’ve seen to date. From a downloadable hurricane guide to handy articles and checklists, a map of storm surge evacuation routes, Miami-Dade provides its residents with access to a plethora of information, tips and advice. The county is also piloting a public safety alert system, where residents can relieve emergency notices via cell phone text messages.

Other national resources include:
  • The National Weather Service’s National Hurricane Center provides local and regional forecasts and satellite maps. In addition to predications and guides, the site is full of maps, statistics and historical storm data.
  • Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), a division of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, is a comprehensive resource for any type of disaster. Its hurricane information includes tips on what to do before, during and after a storm, links to weather reports and hurricane photos. It also provides a link to more information about HAZUS, a risk assessment software program used by state and local governments that can help identify areas of particular vulnerability and estimate potential losses from storm damage.
  • The Colorado State University Tropical Meteorology Project recently released its Extended Range Forecast of Atlantic Seasonal Hurricane Activity and U.S. Landfall Strike Probability for 2008.
  • The U.S. Census Bureau published a special edition of its “Facts for Figures” release, citing demographic figures showing the impact of hurricanes on our nation’s population.