Hurricane could strike next week

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 21, 2014

Though it’s still too early to tell, Covington County could be in for a tropical storm or hurricane next week.

Currently, the National Hurricane Center is tracking two low-pressure systems that could develop into storms in the central Atlantic Ocean in the coming days.

According to the NHC, disorganized shower and thunderstorm activity is associated with an elongated area of low pressure located several hundred miles east of the southern Windward Islands. Gradual development of this system is possible during the next few days while it moves west-north westward at 10 to 15 mph across the Lesser Antilles and into the Caribbean Sea.

Covington County EMA Director Susan Harris said she has not received an update from the NHC yet.

“It is still quite early for that,” she said. “However, there has been several models that show the track heading for Covington County. Everyone needs to stay aware of the situation and be prepared.”

Forecasters remind residents that some of the greatest hurricanes in history occurred during this time period – specifically, Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Isaac and the 1900 Galveston hurricane and the 1935 Labor Day hurricane.

At this very early stage, a track into the Gulf of Mexico is possible next week. However, there is a broad window of possible paths and hurdles for the system to overcome for development to continue.

Two of the long-term models show the system reaching the Gulf Coast by Aug. 29, and one model has predicted it to be a borderline Category 2 or 3 hurricane.

AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Bob Smerbeck said, “high pressure building over the lower Mississippi Valley may help to steer this feature into and across the Gulf of Mexico by late week, but it is also possible that a developing low pressure area east of the mid-Atlantic coast draws the system farther north across the Bahamas and toward Bermuda.”

While it may be too early to predict whether Covington County will be hit with a storm, Harris said she hopes that the people of Covington County have already:

• Prepared an emergency supply kit and created an evacuation plan;

• Know their flood and evacuation zones;

• Checked tie-downs on mobile homes;

• Trimmed back trees and shrubbery near homes;

• Replaced old or damaged roofing shingles;

• Cleared clogged rain gutters and downspouts;

• Made preparations for pets.