EDITORIAL: Be prepared for the next major storm

Staff Writer
The Destin Log

After years without a significant local tropical event, there’s no doubt that Northwest Florida residents have become complacent. We’ve had warnings. We’ve had high surf, rainfall, a few blustery days, but it’s hard for most folks to remember the destruction and misery that accompanied the last major storms to make landfall here.

Here are their names, in case you’ve forgotten. Erin. Opal. Ivan. Dennis. Each wreaked their own destruction, ranging from flooding small streets and knocking down trees to disabling major highways and leaving thousands without power for long, hot days.

Folks were prepared, more or less, for those storms. Or at least as well as they could be.

Despite advances in forecasting, meteorologists can’t really tell us what to expect when. Some folks shop and stock up well in advance. Others head out as the storm is already heading in.

We’ve been reminded in the last week that our good luck streak may be ending. A tropical system has been hovering out there, posing a vague menace. Every day, the forecast changes slightly. And while we’re keeping an eye — sort of — on that storm, more are popping up far out in the tropics.

It would seem that this year may be the year that we are reminded that storms are fickle and forecasts equally so, but there’s no cone of protection around Northwest Florida. It may have been more than 10 years since the last one, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have to pay attention and react accordingly.

We can hope that in the years since the last major local event, forecasting has gotten more precise, emergency evacuation routes have been improved and local officials have stepped up their responses. We can hope that folks who were in the habit of packing up and heading to safer locales will do that again, if the situation warrants.

Eleven years is a long time. Memories are short.

But when tropical weather hits, it gets our attention quickly. It’s hard to ignore trees blowing down, roads closing and extended power outages.

Here’s hoping for another quiet season. But if a storm comes, be ready.