TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — Day 4 of Severe Weather Awareness Week (Thursday Feb. 8, 2024)- brings us to the topics: hurricanes and flooding.
These two weather events impact all of us across South Georgia and the Big Bend.
First we will start with hurricanes.
Hurricane season runs from June 1 until November 30. During this 6-month period, hurricanes can impact the Big Bend and South Georgia.
Typically our 'active' tropical season is late August through early October. Storms can form as far out as the far eastern Atlantic, but can travel miles before impacting land. Tropical storms can also form as close as the Yucatan Peninsula. These storms can rapidly intensify, and lead time on tropical alerts could be as low as a couple of days- also a good reason to be prepared before the tropics get active.
Hurricanes can cause widespread damage and can cause millions of dollars worth of damage each year. As an example, Hurricane Idalia was the first major category (3+) hurricane to hit Florida's Big Bend coastline. According to NOAA, Hurricane Idalia cost a total of $3.6 billion after moving through the Big Bend and riding up the Atlantic coastline. Looking at 1980- August 2023 natural disasters, tropical events have caused the most monetary damage which totals to about $1.3 trillion. On average, tropical storms (including hurricanes) cause $22.8 billion per event. Since 1980, 6,890 deaths from tropical storm natural disaster have been recorded.
With that being said, it is also good to prepare BEFORE tropical season gets underway. Again, tropics can impact us anytime during the season, but late-summer month storms can form quickly and catch us unprepared if we do not get our supplies and a plan together beforehand.
According to NOAA. 'in 2023, flooding events alone caused a total of almost $7 billion in damages in the U.S.' Flooding across the coastline of the Big Bend has been from anything from storm surge, stronger onshore winds from non-tropical systems, and heavy rain. Typically our coastline communities that see more flooding include areas like Taylor County where shorelines are at or just slightly above sea-level where areas of low-lying wetlands exist. This allows water to move further inland without having to climb in elevation and have less resistance for pushing inland.
Inland flooding can also occur under areas of heavy rain within storms. Water can rise quickly both along the coastline and in low-lying areas and along rivers in our neighborhoods. Flash flooding occurs when rain falls too fast for sufficient runoff or to be absorbed by the ground. This leads to a rapid rise in water. Flooding can catch anyone off guard. The best advice given is the popular saying, 'turn around, don't drown.' Driving through flood water is dangerous for many reasons. Flooded roads could have washed out underneath the surface of running water. It takes just a foot of fast-moving water to pick up a car and push it off the road.