Now is the time to prepare for a hurricane. The 2019 Atlantic hurricane season starts on June 1 and lasts for six months until November 30. In the past two years, Florida has experienced major hurricanes both years: Irma made landfall on September 10, 2017 in Cudjoe Key near Key West; and Michael made landfall on October 10, 2018 in Mexico Beach in the Panhandle. Irma was a category 4 with winds of 130 miles per hour at landfall, and Michael was a rare category 5 storm with winds of 161 miles per hour at landfall.
These statistics are a grim reminder that a hurricane can strike Florida any year. It can be powerful and destructive, or a huge slow rainmaker with flooding. The state can experience more than one hurricane in a season, as well.
The beginning of the hurricane season is a good time to prepare. There are many things residents can do now which include developing a personal hurricane preparedness plan; knowing if they will need to evacuate and where to go, if so; stocking up on supplies such as flashlights, batteries, food and water, possibly a generator, and other items; having a plan for your pets; and other preparation details. There are many websites and newspaper inserts with far more information on how to prepare.
But, one item all Floridians should have in their hurricane plan is the Florida 511 (FL511) Advanced
Traveler Information System (ATIS), a service of the Florida Department of Transportation.
Whether staying or evacuating, the website and app will have important information about road closures, flooding, road and travel conditions, and much more to make driving safer before and after the storm.
The system offers the following services: website in English and Spanish, FL511 Mobile App, text alerts, Twitter feeds, and Facebook and Instagram pages. These features make FL511 stand out from other traffic apps and websites. FL511 provides the latest traffic information on crashes, congestion, construction, and closures on all of Florida’s interstates, toll roads and major metropolitan roadways. System features include alerts for hazards (via text to smartphone and Twitter), camera snapshot images (on the website and selectively on the mobile app), customized routes (on the website and mobile app), voice interaction on the smartphone, latest traffic updates, severe weather alerts, truck parking availability, and construction and road congestion information. FL511 is a public service of the Florida Department of Transportation. There may be a charge by service providers for data used for the website, smartphone and text messages.
Residents who plan to evacuate to another state or region of Florida should use FL511 to know the road and travel conditions before they leave. Once on the road, a passenger can check the FL511 Mobile App for latest road conditions ahead. These are included on the incidents list and the map. FL511 is one of the most effective ways drivers can stay informed about roadway conditions during severe weather, evacuations and emergencies. FL511 can provide valuable information for evacuees before they leave and then once on the road. The camera snap-shot images will allow travelers to see road conditions miles away. After the hurricane has exited Florida, FL511 can help evacuees return home by providing information about closed roads and bridges, flooding, congestion and other incidents.
FL511 is useful for those who do not evacuate, as well. After the storm, roads can be dangerous. Roads can be flooded and some can be closed. FL511 will let travelers know of these and other conditions on major Florida roads, so motorists know before they head out on post-hurricane roadways.
This hurricane season, make sure you include FL511 in your preparation plan to Connect.Know.Go!