The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is predicting an above-average hurricane season, including up to six major hurricanes and 14-21 named storms, it announced this week.
Do we have your attention yet? Good.
That means it’s time to check for your hurricane hangtags: Know where they are, make sure they weren’t issued prior to 2012 and, if you’re part of a company or estate with numerous employees, make sure you do a head count to find out where each hangtag is.
Boca Grande has implemented one of the most progressive and user-friendly disaster plans to be used as direction for evacuation of our community. This plan has been utilized successfully in other communities; however, there has always been one part of the plan which has been a concern. That part is how the re-entry process at the Gasparilla Island Bridge is conducted after an evacuation.
Part of this concern is the necessity of checking identification of all who return to the Island, and because this is a very slow process, those waiting in line become very impatient.
In order to facilitate the re-entry to the Island after a major storm event, the Boca Grande Fire Department has administered a program using hurricane hangtags. Each tag is color-coded according to a designated official, commercial or residential use, and by district zone.
BGFD officials said that after an evacuation, it is their goal to return residents to their homes, and business owners to their property, as soon as possible. Hurricane hangtags maximize security measures, while providing authorized persons access to their property.
The hurricane hangtag program includes a four-zone system. Your zone will be printed on your hangtag to better track where one should be and to allow for phased re-entry, if warranted. Limited access at the time of return could be delayed due to any ongoing response and/or recovery efforts in Boca Grande.
A computerized database is used to track the hangtags, and to whom they were issued. Business owners will determine how they will distribute their tags. It is recommended that people keep these in their vehicle glove box for easy access.
A valid driver’s license with a Boca Grande address does not verify a person’s address, only their identity. For the most expedient return, Boca Grande residents, property owners and those with commercial interests are advised to obtain a hurricane hangtag.
If you are not on the island, cannot find your previously-issued hangtag or need more, you can download an application at bocagrandefire.com or send an email to nancybocafire@com- cast.net. Return your completed application with a self-addressed, stamped envelope to the Boca Grande Fire Department, POB 532, Boca Grande, Florida, 33921. Include a copy of your driver’s license, proof of residency or ownership (i.e. copy of tax bill, deed, rental agreement, utility bill, business license, etc.). The tags will be mailed to you.
If you elect to remain on the Island after an evacuation advisory has been issued – which is not recommended – it is requested that you contact the Boca Grande Fire Department at 964-2908 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and leave the following information.
• Name and address where you are staying
• Number of members in your party
• Contact number for next of kin not living in the area.
This will aid the Fire Department to expedite search-and-rescue proceedings, as well as body recovery efforts. Those electing not to contact the Boca Grande Fire Department shall be assisted on a first-come, first-served basis when it is safe to do so.
The Boca Grande Fire Department is NOT A SHELTER OR A SAFE HAVEN. Please make arrangements for evacuations.
For questions regarding hurricane hangtags, emergency preparedness and evacuation, please contact the Boca Grande Fire Department at 964-2908.
One way to stay current regarding all severe weather is to download the BGFD app on your cell phone, which links to our local fire station. It is updated in real time when severe weather is approaching or happening. You can also go to us16.list-manage.com/subscribe?u=554dd2328365a0ff633e28b49&id=61de2f99a0 and sign up for weather alerts from the GICIA, which are also very reliable. Another option is to go to the Boca Beacon Facebook page, where we give you live updates as they happen regarding the weather … and pretty much everything else.
NOAA’s forecast comes with several areas on the Panhandle and other Gulf states still reeling from the storms of the last two years. It predicts 6 to 10 hurricanes in total and three to six major storms, or those Category 3 and above.
NOAA Administrator Rick Spinrad said that for the 2022 Atlantic hurricane season, which extends from June 1 to November 30, they predict a 65 percent chance of an above-normal season, a 25 percent chance of a near-normal season and a 10 percent chance of a below-normal season.
“It’s crucial to remember that it only takes one storm to damage your home, neighborhood and community,” Spinrad said. “Now is the time to get ready for the upcoming hurricane season.”
Last year was the third-most-active season with 21 named storms, behind the 2020 and 2005 seasons.
The increased activity anticipated this hurricane season is attributed to several climate factors, including the ongoing La Niña that is likely to persist throughout the hurricane season, warmer-than-average sea surface temperatures in the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea, weaker tropical Atlantic trade- winds and an enhanced West African monsoon, which supports stronger African easterly waves, which seed many of the strongest and longest-lived hurricanes during most seasons. The way in which climate change impacts the strength and frequency of tropical cyclones is a continuous area of study for NOAA scientists.