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Sunday, August 01, 2021

Tropical Storm Elsa signals start of hurricane season for North Central Florida

Gainesville residents can prepare for severe weather emergencies through available resources and following emergency guidelines

Graphic by Alex Brown
Graphic by Alex Brown

Hurricane season is in full swing — here’s how students and Gainesville residents can be prepared.

The season began June 1 and will last until Nov. 30, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts an above-average Atlantic hurricane season this year with about 13 to 20 named storms and six to 10 named hurricanes.

Elsa, the fifth storm this year, is expected to make landfall in North Florida on July 7. The storm formed in the east Caribbean and is forecasted to travel north across Central Florida, based on models from NOAA. 

Elsa was originally labeled a Category 1 hurricane on Friday, which made it the first named hurricane of the Atlantic hurricane season, but it weakened to a tropical storm the morning of July 3.

The City of Gainesville tweeted residents can expect 2 to 4 inches of rain from the impending tropical storm, and cautioned that a large amount of rain in a short period of time can result in flooding, fallen trees and debris. Residents are encouraged to report any issues through the myGNV website or the corresponding app. 

Alachua County residents can prepare for the possible impact of tropical storm Elsa and future storms this hurricane season by following preparation guidelines before and during a storm.

The Alachua County Emergency Management recommends having a charged NOAA weather radio and a sufficient supply of bottled water on hand and keeping an emergency kit of water, food and medicine that can last 72 hours. 

Residents can sign up to receive emergency alerts from the county about severe weather systems through a notification system called AlertAlachua, an emergency notification system from Alachua County. It’s designed to give updates about a variety of emergency situations such as a hurricane or storm. 

UF also has weather updates accessible for students. Students can closely follow UF Alert, an emergency notification system, on its site or by the messages that are automatically sent to students and faculty via email or text. Students and UF affiliates are automatically enrolled to receive these alerts.  

There are no hurricane evacuation zones in Gainesville or on campus, but shelters are offered during severe weather.

Emergency shelter availability can be found by calling 311 and through the Alachua County Emergency Management website. Campus buildings can operate as shelters for students and faculty when UF housing determines them necessary, but students are advised to stay in their assigned residence halls

Contact Phong Hunyh at phunyh@alligator.org. Follow him on Twitter @phongphont.

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