No matter how weak a storm is, as it was when it passed over us, there is always the potential for trouble. When the center of Isaac slid just South of Key West, it brought some gusty winds, rain, and minor flooding, but no major problems. It wasn't until the following day, when it was over the Gulf of Mexico, that South Florida felt its presence.
A feeder band parked itself right along the East coast with tropical storm force winds and heavy rain, leading to widespread flooding in northeastern Broward and Palm Beach. Trees came down, electrical lines snapped, roofs leaked, and some neighborhoods had water rise up to their front doors. All of these problems happened, not from a direct hit but from a glancing blow form one of its feeder bands.
This is why it worries me when folks say, "Ah, its just a storm", or " A Cat 1 is nothing to be scared about", or "We're out of the cone, so no worries here". With this mentality, they fail to prepare and then suffer the consequences.
A storm or hurricane is not a dot on a map. That is just the center of circulation or where NHC tracks the system from. The clouds, winds, rain and surge can be felt hundreds of miles away. Case and point: Isaac. Even though, much of South Florida was outside the cone of concern, there were advisories up and down both coasts. This is why its so important to prepare and to worry about each system, no matter how small or insignificant you may think it is...it can always surprise.
Storms are like people and come in all shapes and sizes.
- Andrew: When is slammed South Florida in 1992, was a small and compact system with little rain, but a violent storm surge, powerful winds, and isolated tornadoes.
- Katrina: Its path over South Florida in 2005 saw Cat 1 winds, but loaded with rain, dumping as much as 16 inches over parts of Miami Dade causing flooding.
- Isaac: While only a tropical storm, it was a huge system in size. It did not make landfall across South Florida, but a back-side feeder band lead to all sorts of flooding problems due to heavy rain.
This is why we should always monitor tropical systems no matter how big or small or whether we're in the cone or not. If its close by, keep your eyes on it, and prepare accordingly. Preparation is key.
I always tell my friends that if an earthquake were to happen right now, I could not give them any warning. If I could give you a few minutes notice that a tornado was coming, I would be on my A game... unlike any of these phenomena, a hurricane will never take you by surprise. Sometimes I will be on TV ad nauseam warning you of its presence, letting you know its coming.
I hope we don't see any more activity this season, but if we do.... prepare and you will be fine. Whats the worse that can happen? You got ready and nothing hit? Then think of it as a fire drill, in this case, a hurricane drill.