HURRICANES FACTS AND WARNING!
Hurricane season officially starts on June 1st and ends in November.
Everyone seems concerned with hurricanes and hurricane season when coming to Florida.
It is a fact of life for us, one we're not happy with but grow accustomed to - altough the surge of anxiety certainly runs through our veins each time even a slight disturbance is spotted thousands of miles away, just off the coast of Africa and the local channels jump on it covering it's ever so sloooooow track towards the coastline of the USA.
Hurricanes are divided into 5 categories: Cat 1 with winds of 74 - 95 MPH. No real damage expected (although Wilma last year was reputed to be a Cat 1 and anyone watching the coverage will agree that, next to Andrew, the change in Miami's landscape had never been greater).
Cat 2 with winds of 96 - 110 mph. Storm surges usually 6 - 8 feet (storm surges often cause the largest amounts of death in low lying areas). Roofing material starts to fly off, doors and windows may implode. Signs and mobile homes start to suffer damage. Alot more trees down.
Cat 3 with winds of 111 - 130 mph. Structural damage is now pretty well assured, specially in poorly constructed homes. Utility buildings, larger trees blown down and mobile homes suffering large amounts of damage. Cat 4 with winds of 131 - 155 mph. Hurricane Katrina was a 4 (downgraded after a brief stint as a 5). Storm surge now up to 18 ft of water! Walls begin to fail in buildings and complete roofs blown off. Most street signs, large signs such as gas stations, grocery stores, shopping centers are blown away. Anything not tied down becomes a high powered flying projectile.
3 - 6 hours before hurricane actually arrives, any escape routes may be cut off due to heavy rains, storms and gusty winds. Major damage to buildings and homes.
Cat 5 with winds of 155mph or greater - HURRICANE ANDREW...
Anyone having seen or being familiiar with Miami Dade County during Hurricane Andrew will tell you that it is total catastrophic.
Complete roof failure, buildings blown out, mass destruction and great loss of life are all possibilities.
Almost all trees, shrubs and signs are totally stripped and blown down. To awaken to the aftermath of a sustained Cat 5 hurricane is to gaze upon a changed landscape, unrecognizable and seemingly out of an atomic bomb blast.
Although seemingly "cool" when watching it on TV, it is guaranteed to be the scariest moment of your life as you listen to your house fall apart around you, not knowing when it will end.
In case of a hurricane advisory, keep tuned to local news casts and weather alerts.
In case of a mandatory evacuation, designed to get the tourists out of harm's way, please don't be curious or brave. Heed the local expert's advice and evacuate!
Any tourist having to spend part of their vacation cooped up in a hot, uncomfortable shelter then again, days after storm has passed, without electric, food or water will tell you it was NOT the highlight of their trip!