Hurricane Season


Face the fact: We're vulnerable

Sun staff

When people think about the hurricane season, the first thing that comes to mind is Hurricane Andrew, the 1992 storm that ravaged South Florida.

But two tropical storms -- one born off the western tip of Cuba June 30, 1994, and the other a little more than a month later that year in the northern Gulf of Mexico -- caused their own havoc in the Florida Panhandle.

Tropical Storm Alberto turned out to be a bigger killer than Andrew. And followed by Tropical Storm Beryl, it proved to be a significant disaster for people in the Florida Panhandle.

Beryl hit Aug. 16, 1994, just miles west of Alberto's landfall July 3, aggravating a disastrous problem by dumping more water on an already flooded area. Jerry Jerrold, acting director of the National Hurricane Center in Miami, says there's no reason why the flooding in the Panhandle couldn't happen here.

Traditionally, hurricanes and tropical storms born in the Gulf of Mexico -- such as those two -- travel north and ultimately turn northeast. Atlantic Ocean storms usually travel west before turning north and then northeast.

``But the most predictable thing about these storms is that they are unpredictable,'' Jerrold said, indicating that until the storms actually make landfall, forecasters never know for certain where they'll hit.

If Alberto had hit Central Florida, similar damage would have occurred.


EXTRA: What to do with pets in a hurricane

To Page 2 of Sun.ONE's Hurricane Special