TAVARES —The National Weather Service (NWS) has forecasted a strong El Niño weather pattern for 2015-2016, which may mean an increased likelihood of severe weather and tornado outbreaks in Florida between November and April. These weather conditions may also cause increased chances for heavy rain and flooding and below average temperatures, according to Tommy Carpenter, Manager of Lake County’s Emergency Management Division.
“We urge residents to carefully think about their personal and family preparedness plans and to be ready for a stronger than normal storm season,” said Carpenter. “As we have seen in the not so distant past, Lake County is not immune to severe weather, and preparation is key to our citizens’ safety.”
The two deadliest tornado outbreaks in Florida history, with a total of 63 lives lost, occurred during years with strong El Niño patterns. Most recently, the Groundhog Day Tornadoes, which struck Lake, Volusia and Sumter counties on Feb. 2, 2007, claimed 21 lives, caused $32 million in damage and destroyed 185 structures. Lake County Emergency Management oversaw operations which established power to be restored within 36 hours, brought 45 agencies together to assist with relief efforts and assisted 60 people sheltered at The Villages Elementary School and North Lake Presbyterian Church.
To be better prepared, residents should consider purchasing a NOAA weather radio and sign up to receive local media weather text alerts. Before an emergency strikes, citizens should also have a family disaster plan and communication plan, as well a disaster supply kit. Visit www.ready.gov for more details.
For additional information about preparing for an emergency, contact Lake County Emergency Management at 352-343-9420 or visit www.lakecountyfl.gov/emergency. For updated information during an emergency, follow Emergency Management at www.facebook.com/LakeCountyFLEmergencyManagement and www.twitter.com/lakeemergency.