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No Room For Complacency : Emergency Officials Talk Hurricane Preparedness

Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

Meteorologists, emergency preparedness officials and members of the media from the Miami-Fort Lauderdale area gathered on Thursday to discuss how to communicate best with the public--and each other--when severe weather is approaching.

This was one of several workshops the 's Miami-South Florida Forecast Office hosted to communicate about new data mapping tools ahead of hurricane season. National Weather Service meteorologists Pablo Santos and Robert Molleda answered questions on how accurately the models can advise people when a hurricane is imminent.

Santos said each year they review what worked from the previous year and what needs to be tweaked. "How do we want to coordinate?" he said. "How are we going to help each other out? How are we going to support each other?"

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration  is predicting an "above normal" hurricane season, but meteorologist Robert Molleda said that doesn't tell us much.

"We know that South Florida is, historically speaking, the most hurricane-prone part of the country. Therefore, we have to be ready every year whether it's a below normal season, near normal or above normal," Molleda said. 

New this year are storm surge watches and warnings. Along with other alerts, the public will now be specifically notified if they are in the zone of a potential life-threatening storm surge. 

Kurt Sommerhoff is director of emergency management for Miami-Dade County. He attended the workshop and said the most vulnerable people are those who recently moved to the area. 

"I always worry about complacency," he said. "There's a lot of new people here who have never experienced severe tropical weather."

Click hereto find out if you are in an evacuation zone. 

Click hereto learn more about how to prepare for a hurricane. 

Hurricane season begins June 1st. 

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Holly Pretsky is a Colorado native who loves riding her bike around, eating tuna sandwiches, asking questions, and climbing mountains.She discovered radio storytelling when she won second place in an informal audio essay competition her sophomore year of college. The prize: a t-shirt from the local radio station. Since then, she's graduated from Colorado College and continued reporting in Colorado Springs and now Miami. One of her favorite things is learning about people who dedicate themselves to things she didn't know existed, and being reminded how much passion there is in the world.