Severe Weather Blog

Experts predict light hurricane season; Manatee County officials encourage preparedness

MANATEE -- Though experts predict 2015 will be light on hurricanes and tropical storms, Manatee County officials encourage people not to grow complacent.

"We've had 10 years of really mild, quiet time -- there have been storms but nothing has really impacted Florida to any major extent. This year they are talking about a less than average season," said Don Hermey, Manatee County emergency management chief. "However, as we like to remind people, it only takes one. One in our season is going to be a challenge, particularly if it's a major Category 3 or greater storm."

Meteorologists have predicted seven main storms in the 2015 hurricane season, which runs June 1 to Nov. 30. Those predictions are based on activity in the Atlantic Ocean, so they don't predict what states might be hit by storms.

Manatee County evacuation procedures have not changed and neither has the evacuation levels map, Her

mey said.

Floridians should make sure they have an evacuation plan for their family, including pets, batteries, flashlights, a week's worth of food and water and a radio, officials stress.

Florida provided a state sales tax holiday on items meant for hurricane preparedness in 2014, but it's unclear if the same tax holiday will exist this year. Last year, people could buy flashlights, batteries, radios, waterproof sheeting, gas tanks and first-aid kits sans sales tax June 1-12.

Manatee County was last hit with a major hurricane in 1926, but Hermey stressed several times long periods without storms don't mean people should be at ease or not prepare.

"When you talk to experts and look at areas of the country as far as an impact is concerned, Tampa Bay is long overdue for the impact of a major storm, statistically speaking," Hermey said.

Kate Irby, Herald online/political reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7055 or at kirby@bradenton.com. You can follow her on Twitter @KateIrby.

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