Storm system brings potential for dangerous weather to Florida over the Holiday weekend | Environment

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Storm system brings potential for dangerous weather to Florida over the Holiday weekend
Environment, Weather

 

FLORIDA -- The Florida Division of Emergency Management (FDEM) reminds Florida’s residents and visitors to remain aware of current weather situations this holiday weekend, as a storm system may bring heavy rainfall across much of the Sunshine State. Potential flooding conditions will affect Southeast Florida through this evening. This threat could shift northward to portions of the Northern Peninsula later this weekend as the system nears this area of the state. This same system could bring strong onshore winds, which may lead to rough surf, large breaking waves and a high risk of rip currents along the Atlantic Coast through next week.

“The storm system could impact a large portion of the State over the holiday weekend,” said DEM’s Deputy State Meteorologist Michelle Palmer. “Residents and visitors should remain aware of weather conditions in their local area, and follow any safety instructions from local officials.”

A Flood Watch is currently in effect for Miami-Dade County through Thursday evening. A Flood Watch means there is a potential for flooding based on current forecasts. Residents should monitor forecasts and be alert for possible flooding conditions. Those living in areas prone to flooding should be prepared to take action should flooding develop.

To avoid getting caught in a flood, follow these safety rules:

•      NOAA All Hazards Weather Radio is one of the best ways to receive warnings from the National Weather Service. Monitor the NOAA Weather Radio or your favorite news source for vital weather-related information.

•      If flooding occurs, get to higher ground. Get out of areas subject to flooding, including dips, low spots, canals, ditches, etc.

•      Avoid areas already flooded, especially if the water is flowing fast. Do not attempt to cross flowing streams.

•      Road beds may be washed out under flood waters. NEVER drive through flooded roadways.

•      Do not camp or park your vehicle along streams and washes, particularly during threatening conditions.

•      Be especially cautious at night when it is harder to recognize flood dangers.

One of the most important things you can do to protect your home and family before a flood is to have a family or business plan and purchase a federal flood insurance policy. For more information on the Week, tips on protecting your home, and how to purchase flood insurance, please visit www.FloodSmart.gov.

A rip current is a narrow, powerful current of water that runs perpendicular to the beach, out into the ocean. These currents may extend 200 to 2,500 feet (61 to 762 meters) in length, but are typically less than 30 feet (9 meters) wide. Rip currents can often move at more than five miles per hour (8 kilometers per hour) and are not always identifiable to the average beachgoer.

When at the beach:

•      Before you leave for the beach, check the latest National Weather Service forecast for local beach conditions.

•      Whenever possible, swim at a lifeguard-protected beach.

•      Obey all instructions and orders from lifeguards. Lifeguards are trained to identify hazards. Ask a lifeguard about the conditions before entering the water. This is part of their job.

•      Know the meaning of and obey warnings represented by colored beach flags. Different beaches may use different colors but a commonly used series include:

o   Double Red: Beach is closed to the public

o   Single Red: high hazard, e.g., strong surf or currents

o   Yellow: medium hazard

o   Green: Calm conditions although caution is still necessary

o   Purple: Flown with either Red or Yellow: Dangerous marine life

•      Learn how to swim in the surf. It's not the same as swimming in a pool or lake. Also, never swim alone.

•      Stay at least 100 feet away from piers and jetties. Permanent rip currents often exist alongside these structures.

•      Pay especially close attention to children and persons who are elderly when at the beach. Even in shallow water, wave action can cause loss of footing.

•      Be cautious. Always assume rip currents are present even if you don’t see them.

If caught in a rip current:

•      DON’T PANIC. The rip won’t pull you under the water; it will just carry you seaward. Remain calm to conserve energy and think clearly.

•      NEVER swim against the rip. Stay afloat, go with the flow and signal for help.

•      Swim out of the current in a direction following the shoreline. When out of the current, swim at an angle--away from the current--towards shore.

•      Think of a rip current like a treadmill that cannot be turned off, which you need to step to the side of.

•      If you are unable to swim out of the rip current, float or calmly tread water. Rip current strength eventually subsides offshore. When it does, swim toward shore.

•      Draw attention to yourself: face the shore, wave your arms, and yell for help.

If you see someone in trouble, don't become a victim too:

•      Get help from a lifeguard.

•      If a lifeguard is not available, have someone call 9-1-1.

•      Throw the rip current victim something that floats--a lifejacket, a cooler, an inflatable ball.

•      Yell instructions on how to escape.

•      Remember, many people drown while trying to save someone else from a rip current.

Follow safe boating practices:

•      Have a VHF Marine Band Radio and NOAA Weather Radio on board.

•      Check the marine forecast well ahead of time.

•      Know the limitations of your boat. If small craft advisories or gale warnings are issued, you should postpone travel.

•      Be sure everyone aboard is wearing a life jacket.

•      File a float plan at your marina.

•      Thunderstorms and weather-related hazards form quickly. Never let these storms cut off your route back to land.

Beachgoers who want to learn more about rip currents can visit www.ripcurrents.noaa.gov. Boaters can go to www.srh.noaa.gov/wml to check the current marine conditions and updated forecasts.

The Atlantic Hurricane Season runs from June 1 – November 30. To GET A PLAN! visit www.FloridaDisaster.org. For the latest information on the 2012 Hurricane Season, follow us on Twitter at www.Twitter.com/flsert and on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/FloridaSERT.

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