After three major hurricanes in two years and witnessing the destruction of Hurricane Irma, it’s clear Florida needs to keep the best tabs on storm development. Powerful storms with the ability to wreak havoc are not a matter of if, but when. Governor Rick Scott addressed how our state must be better prepared for this year at the Annual Governor’s Hurricane Conference in Palm Beach this week.
“Irma was very scary and it could have been devastating but everybody worked together,” said Scott.
Other speakers, including the newly selected director of the National Hurricane Center Kenneth Graham, identified methods to save lives this hurricane season. The conference emphasized resident preparation with the theme “Readiness is Everyone’s Job.” Just like charity - safety starts at home.
If this hurricane season is anything like last years - or worse - residents and emergency management need every form of help they can get. That includes precise measurements of temperature, humidity, wind speed and direction, air pressure, rainfall, and solar radiation.
One innovative asset some emergency managers are using is called WeatherSTEM. WeatherSTEM is basically an all-in-one weather tracker that sends out hyper-local alerts and records data at a specific point in Florida. A network of these weather stations across the state, OrangeSTEM, forms a first line of defense against the storm.
CEO Ed Mansouri, who attended the conference, says that they received reports from counties all over the state during Irma about how emergency responders were referring to the systems to make safe, informed decisions before dispatching.
"One thing is certain: Advance warning saves lives and protects property," said Mansouri. “Our emergency managers need every tool available to help protect our families, friends, and neighbors.”
As of now, there’s about 225 WeatherSTEM stations set up in Florida. All public entities and private businesses qualify to become host sites, including golf courses, parks, shopping centers, restaurants, universities, and hotels.
Irma was the biggest Atlantic hurricane ever recorded, and causes of death included trauma, heart attack and electrocution estimating over 70 deaths just in Florida. With that being said, Florida is not playing around this year. Attendance was up 25% at this year’s Governor’s Hurricane Conference and the more people equipped with the tech to prepare themselves, the better.
Hurricane season formally starts on June 1 - so we’ll soon see how prepared for a storm the Sunshine State really is.