JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- First Coast News Meteorologist Mike Prangley reviewed the hurricane season of 2012 and wrote about the myths and the lessons learned at the 2013 hurricane season approached.
Tweets and Weather Alerts, Tropical Storm Beryl:
Hurricane hunters are flying over UNF and have confirmed sustained wind speeds at the surface of 72 mph. A tornado watch is in effect so make sure you stay tuned to your two minute advantage as Beryl comes ashore. Rotating storms are likely. All bridges are closed and no travel on any roads is advised. Wind gusts have now hit 87 mph on the Matthews Bridge. Over 40,000 power outages are now being reported across the area but it is good to know our text alerts and tweets are keeping folks updated on this dangerous storm that is making landfall along the Duval-St.Johns County line. Flooding is swamping the area with up to 10 inches of rain highlighted on your only live Doppler radar. Widespread wind gusts of 65 mph up and down the I-95 corridor are causing a lot of debris. Large 100 year-old Oaks are down near Kingsland, Georgia blocking roads.
Beryl was officially categorized as a tropical storm with 65 mph winds when it made landfall on May 27, 2012 just before midnight.
Wind speeds should not be our prime focus with tropical cyclones when it comes to safety. It is flooding and severe weather that kills more people in these systems than wind. In fact killer tornadoes hit eastern North Carolina more than 500 miles away from where Beryl made landfall. 74 mph sustained winds are necessary for a cyclone to be an official hurricane. Now we all know that all tropical systems need to be taken seriously. That is why the First Coast News Weather Team stayed on the air continuously throughout the night and I will never forget taking calls and e-mails live on the air making sure we were truly first for you. By keeping people calm, safe and informed in a timely manner was rewarding and it is a story I certainly look forward to sharing with my grand-children some day.
More valuable lessons would come our way by late June. Folks were sent fleeing to higher ground due to flooding and 4-5 foot tidal surges on the St.Marys River which reached all the way to US 1 in Hilliard. The river was flowing at an incredible 20,000 cubic feet per second. We have not seen anything like this on record from any type of storm or hurricane. State Road 40 would be just one of hundreds of roads closed with even a major evacuation route Interstate 10 shut down with the highest water levels reported in Lake City since Hurricane Dora in 1964. Numerous water rescues were taking place with water all the way up to roof-tops in Live Oak. Jacksonville was deluged and the busiest start to tropical season since 1887 brought rainfall totals to an astounding 35". This was more rain that we had in all of 2010 during our drought.
This was not a hurricane - but Tropical Storm Debby that made landfall with 40 mph sustained winds near Steinhatchee, Florida about 170 miles away from our Live Doppler Radar sight in Anders.
But Debby's slow movement and interaction with a weather front made it a monster that will not be forgotten with some folks still displaced from their homes here at home almost a year later.
The bottom line is we do get hit with tropical systems here in Jacksonville and while we have not had a direct land-falling hurricane since 1964 that is one statistic that does not mean much at all. If you look at tropical system's local impacts in the entire Atlantic basin Jacksonville, Florida ranks up near the top of the list. It is rare we get through any year without some type of tropical trouble. Our new focus is no longer on Dora. A storm that makes landfall hundreds of miles away can cause just as many problems as a direct land-falling hurricane. The power of a tropical storm is mind-boggling and can generate enough electricity to power the entire globe one-hundred times over and you do not need 74 mph wind speeds for that to take place.
Stay safe and stay tuned to the First Coast News Weather Team will continue to be first for you.