It just seems like it was just yesterday that we entered yet another Hurricane season. For it was last years uneventful season that only extended our compliancy that just maybe we will escape unscathed again this season. Long forgotten are the Hurricane seasons of 2004 and 2005 where the effects of hurricanes took a heavy toll and almost wiped out the city of New Orleans when Katrina hit. In Florida both years saw a record number of major storms that wrecked havoc all over the state. It was just a few years ago that in 2011 when Irene came stomping through and then just a year latter Sandy took out most of the Eastern shores of New Jersey and parts of New York. You would think that since then the United States would have made preparations that just in case another wave of major storms should hit we would be well prepared for any contingency that could develop. Sure, every year around this time there are guides that remind us on the proper resources we must have in the event that one storm would come our way but, all around the coast line of the United States is as vulnerable as ever to be the recipient of major damage when a major storm comes rolling through.
In Tampa, Florida the compliancy has morphed into a realization that we have not been on the front end of a major storm since 1921 so why should 2014 be any different. Tampa had a close brush in 2004 but that was only a tropical storm with minimal flooding and wind damage. In the event that a major hurricane of a category 3 or better the whole city would be under water. The ensuing storm surge that always coincides with any tropical storm and especially major hurricanes would flow unrestricted and cover over 90% of the downtown and surrounding areas. This is the realization that for many have yet to contemplate. To date every emergency shelter fails to have contingency plans in place with back up septic systems and have auxiliary generators in place when the power goes out. What happened in the Silver Dome when Katrina hit New Orleans would be the same horrific disastrous conditions in shelters all around today.
We have had years to but in place the proper contingencies to minimize the effects of major storms especially the storm surges that pose the most real imminent threat. So often though our most astute leaders of state only realize this after a storm has wrecked devastating damage. What happened in the aftermath of Katrina when the levees broke was a lesson on how to protect coastal areas. But, that billion dollar reconstruction project was the result of the aftermath and not a prerequisite before a major storm makes landfall. As always our political leaders wait for the aftermath until they decide on how to prevent another catastrophe from happening. It's like how many accidents and fatalities does it take before a stop sign or a traffic light is installed. In some cases it is already too late.
So, on the eve of another hurricane season where the National Weather Service is forecasting a season of relatively moderate amount of storm activity in the Atlantic many are too self absorbed to realize that disaster could strike at any moment. But, all it would take is for one major Hurricane to make landfall this season to wreck more devastation on an already fragile economy. In Tampa, not if but when a major storm hits the aftermath would be catastrophic. Just because we have already failed to put in place the necessary precautions that would negate the effects on storm surges and of course power outages that always occur during and in the aftermath of storms. The Tampa area has had over 93 years to prepare for disaster and yet we are totally unprepared. Is Tampa's luck is about to run out? That remains to been seen. Woefully unprepared the city is still like a sitting duck.
When the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration put out this years Hurricane projections they based it on the expectation that the El Niño effect would develop like it had last year. It is the El Niño effect that decreases the vertical wind shear over the tropical central Pacific. This tends to increase the development of more and stronger tropical cyclones. It was last years horrific typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines that was one of the strongest storms in history. That storm like so many others in the Pacific last year were a result of the El Nino effect. When the NOAA issued this years Central Pacific hurricane projections they urged not only the Philippines but Hawaii residents as well to be fully prepared before this hurricane season even starts.
By contrast though the National Oceanic And Atmospheric Administration are a little more optimistic about this years Atlantic Hurricane season. A below normal number of storms they are predicting. We have to remember though that both the Pacific and the Atlantic seas have only increased in temperature. It is a known fact that when water temperatures reach a level high enough spawn, in the Pacific Typhoons and in the Atlantic Hurricanes. The warmer sea temperatures in the Pacific gave rise to Typhoon Haiyan and the likelihood that another major intense typhoon will develop this year is as real as it gets. In the Atlantic warmer seas in and around the Caribbean are a prelude for disaster.
If we manage to escape untouched this season we had better put in place the necessary precautions that would reduce the devastation caused by tropical storms and hurricanes and not wait for the aftermath to do something about it. By then it will surely be too late.