In the wake of Hurricane Irma, residents all over Southwest Florida are still weary of the devastating wreckage a massive storm can leave behind.
The impact from Hurricane Irma on Lee County last September was dramatic and swift, leaving thousands without power and many without homes.
Statewide, the storm took 84 lives.
Hurricane season officially starts , June 1, and with it comes constant checking of the weather and the sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach when storm "developments" start taking shape.
Dan Brown, senior hurricane specialist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Hurricane Center in Miami says as of now, it's looking like we're on track for "A slightly average to above average hurricane season."
According to NOAA, forecasters predict a 35 percent chance of an above-normal season, a 40 percent chance of a fairly normal season and a 25 percent chance of a below-average season.
NOAA forecasters also see a 70 percent likelihood of 10 to 16 named storms (winds 39 mph or higher), in which five to nine could become hurricanes (74 mph winds or higher), with one to four major hurricanes evolving (category 3 or higher, 111 mph-plus winds).
An average hurricane season sees 12 named storms, with six becoming hurricanes and three reaching major category levels.
Last season, the Atlantic saw 17 named storms, with 10 turning into hurricanes, breeding six major category storms, of course including Irma.
The University of Colorado seems to have found the crystal ball when it comes to these matters, being the go-to source and releasing predictions every year since 1984.
They predict we will see 14 named storms, including seven hurricanes, three of them becoming major.
We saw our first named storm of the year in Alberto, whose rains were not as torrential as expected.
Brown says a named storm early in the year does not mean we're in for a rough ride.
"Pre-season storms do not necessarily foretell an active hurricane season. There have been pre-season storms before various types of hurricane seasons. It does give everyone a reminder that hurricane season is beginning and now is the time to make your preparedness actions. It is a good time before the next storm to find out if you live in an evacuation zone, stock up on supplies and nonperishable food and water, make sure your insurance is up-to-date and see what you can do to strengthen your home."
A number of factors go into what we can expect over the next six months, including El Nino or La Nina taking form, as well as ocean and atmospheric parameters.
El Nino occurs when ocean temperatures in the tropical pacific are warm, with El Nina being when those same waters are cool.
When El Nino is in effect, it can potentially mean a slower hurricane season for the east coast.
"There's potential we will see El Nino conditions later in the summer, which can reduce hurricane activity in the Atlantic," Brown said.
Florida residents should hope for El Nino conditions towards the end of summer, seeing as that is the most active time for hurricane development.
Ninty-five percent of all major hurricanes occur after Aug.1; Irma hit Florida Sept.10 last year.
"Another factor we consider is wind sheara higher wind shear typically keeps hurricanes away as tropical storms are not able to strengthen," Brown added.
Brown said right now sea surface temperatures in the tropical Atlantic are cooler than normal, another good sign of a potential lesser season.
Though signs may be pointing in a decent direction, by no means does this mean Southwest Florida will have it easy in 2018.
CAPTIVA | SANIBEL | SOUTH SEAS ISLAND RESORT | SW FLORIDA
Ken is a 4th generation native Floridian and is currently President/Owner of Estate Management LLC, a full service property management company which include: Estate Management LLC, and Estate Management Construction, LLC. Ken has over 27 years of experience in property management, residential construction and commercial development mainly focusing on Captiva Island. A veteran of the United States Coast Guard, he began his career on Captiva Island in 1988 at South Seas Plantation Resort and Yacht Harbour. He later started Estate Management in 1995 servicing the islands as a full serviced residential property management company. In 2007/2008, he was hired as Vice President of Operations at Ernie Els Design, an international golf course design and real-estate development group. Integrity and excellence in both development and community service are core principles that guide Ken and his team. EM LLC has a long-term track record of providing extraordinary service managing, remodeling, and developing for their clients.
Ken is a specialist in State of Florida DEP Coastal Construction residential permitting, Lee County building codes, setback regulations, easements, and building requirements. He personally expedited 65 Hurricane Charley claims for his clients successfully and won 2 appeals through mediation to obtain maximum insurance payments for claims filed.
His professional certification includes: Certified Building Contractor, Community Association Manager (CAM), Realtor, Certified Rooms Division Executive (CRDE) from The American Hotel & Motel Association of America.
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