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Yes, we should still prepare because we don’t know what Irma might do

Sun Herald

A kind woman called me yesterday evening and asked me if I stood by an editorial I wrote Monday urging people to prepare as if Hurricane Irma was headed here.

I did. And I do. And here's why.

On Aug. 25, 2005, (a Facebook friend reminded me), the forecast track of Hurricane Katrina had it hitting the Panhandle of Florida at the Big Bend. That would have had us on the so-called dry side of the storm. Imagine our lives today if that storm had hit a couple of hundred miles to our East.

But it didn't. By Friday evening, forecasters had shifted the track west to the Mississippi-Alabama line. Eventually, Katrina would hit near Bay St. Louis. We know the rest.

So, just because the forecast track map now has it going to Florida, remember that those forecasts can change in a hurry. I remember not being that worried about Katrina until Sunday morning, when I woke to the sound of my Midwest relatives ringing my phone off the hook and the Weather Channel on TV showing Katrina practically filling the Gulf.

The point of that editorial remains the same: Preparation increases your chance of surviving a hurricane. We hope you are prepared.

I hope you aren't unduly alarmed. But I hope you are paying attention to the storm and its forecast track.

And I hope you stand ready to help if you are able regardless of where the storm lands.

Thursday afternoon, the National Weather Service pointed out that conditions were different in 2005

“This is a completely different steering pattern from that of Katrina,” NWS New Orleans said in a tweet. “There was no upper level trough in the area in 2005.”

In another tweet, it said it was confident Irma would make a northerly turn and hit Florida.

However.

“We are still in peak hurricane season,” it said. “ALL people in coastal areas should have a plan & kit.”

Paul Hampton: 228-284-7296, @JPaulHampton

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