Weather Alert


A Heat Advisory has been issued for the area Saturday.  Heat indices will be between 105 and 110 during the afternoon hours.



Hurricane Preparedness

Hurricane Preparedness
As technology improves, forecasting improves and changes are made to help you stay informed during hurricane season. The National Hurricane Center issues a product called the "tropical weather outlook." And that outlook is getting better.

We use the tropical weather outlook to tell you what the chances are for a depression or storm to form. In the past that forecast has covered two days. This year the tropical weather outlook will cover five days giving us a better idea of what a tropical wave or area of low pressure may do.

"That can especially be helpful for example when in the Northeastern Gulf some things trying to form on our doorstep, you're going to get a longer heads up for the potential of that system to form as a depression or storm," said Dr. Richard Knabb, director of the National Hurricane Center. "It's the first year of the National Tropical Weather Conference and the weather seems to be appropriate because the winds are gusting about 30mph or so. We've been talking about the 2013 hurricane season and the main message we're getting from these guys is that everyone just needs to be prepared."

As a resident of Florida the hurricane center director says he's prepared.

"I lived the hurricane problem as a resident of South Florida and a former resident of the Panhandle region when I was going to Florida State University. I lived the hurricane problem just like everyone in Northwest Florida does," Knabb said.

To make sure people are more prepared for a land falling hurricane the National Hurricane Center updates its policy.

Other changes for this year, a smaller forecast cone. So we can expect to see less of the coastline within a forecast cone as a storm approaches.

In 2012 Hurricane Sandy lost its hurricane status just before making landfall and warnings from the National Hurricane center were not issued. Warnings were left up to the local national weather service offices. Many believe this was a mistake. This year warnings will be issued if the same scenario occurs. Officially the wording for watches and warnings now includes "post-tropical" cyclones. At landfall, scientists at the hurricane center were not defining Sandy as a hurricane but the damage was the same either way. In the NOAA after Sandy report, the word "confusion" was mentioned 88 times.

This is the forecast from Colorado State University.
Top forecasters predict an above-average 2013 Atlantic Hurricane season, with 18 Tropical Storms forecast, 9 of which they think will be hurricanes.

"We expect an active season. We'll see whether it works out. We think looking around the globe the climate signals are more typical of an active season coming up, than an inactive one."


No matter what kind of season it's going to be, it's best to be ready before hurricane season.

Make sure you have an updated storm supply kit...
What you need, and how you can save money.

Shopping list graphic:
-First Aid Kit
-Food and Water
-Power Generator

If a major storm hits the area you're gonna wish you had some basic storm here's a list of some things we need...everything from batteries to flashlights to power generators.

See how much all of this will cost us
The first item on our list is a first aid kit...there's a couple different types...but this is probably the best bang for your buck. the industrial construction first aid kit. it runs about 19:97 and it covers everything for your basic cuts, scrapes and bruises. If you need anything more than what's on this kit, you'll probably need to go to the emergency room.

No storm supply kit is complete without flashlights. Check this one out. it's LED, it comes with its own battery and you can see it's bright enough.
The best part, it's the price is 4.97, you can put two of them in your supply kit.

If your shopping batteries, remember the two B's: bulk and brand.
Now Lowe's carries this brand called UtilieTech.
If you're shopping value they recommend this: 100 pack of double As for 21.97.

That puts you at about 21 cents a battery.
If you want to protect your home you might want to stop by the lumber aisle.

Now this is piece of plywood that's about 3/8 inch thick which is what you'll want it to protect your home.
because it's not about how hard that wind is blowing, it's about what it'll blow at your windows...

Now you might want to get about four of these depending on how many windows you have...
Each sheet will run you about 17 dollars

Remember you need plenty of food and water as well. the best advice for that is to shop early and look for deals.
This water is going for about 4 dollars for 34 bottles...

That's pretty good, that's about 12 cents a bottle.
And as far as food goes, remember to buy canned items and non-perishables

If you're looking to buy a power's going to be one of the more expensive items on your list...
This is one of the smaller ones we found and it runs about 329 dollars .

It wont be big enough to power your AC unit.
But you can see these plugs here, it should be enough to power your fridge or freezer, even your TV set so you can watch Channel 3 for the latest weather updates.

495 dollars after taxes. that's the grand total for all the items in our cart. now if you lose that power generator, your total will be about 150 dollars and that's not bad for your safety and piece of mind this hurricane season.

When making that emergency kit don't forget important papers, prescription medicines, and any baby food or supplies like formula and diapers.


Strong winds and storm surge could potentially do tremendous damage to any structure built close to Pensacola Bay.

But the builders of Maritime Park have taken precautions to help it withstand any hurricane.The park is designed to face 165 mile per hour winds. Typical downtown buildings are made to face 150 mph winds.
But wind isn't the only threat in a hurricane. The storm surge is the most deadly.

"The building is on piles. So if the water comes up onto the site and scours away the soil, the piles will still be there. And the slabs are designed to span between the piles so the soil underneath the slabs can go away and the slabs will still be supported."

The park sits higher in elevation than the rest of downtown Pensacola. In theory it should be one of the last things to flood. On the inside, the "batter's eye" in center field is designed to collapse if the winds get strong enough.

Hurricane Plan

Before the Storm

Natural gas lines require you to take no special precautions. In cases of severe lighting, you might want to unplug natural gas appliances to avoid possible electrical damage.

During the Storm

Most natural gas cooking and water heating appliances will continue to operate safely without electricity. Some may require that you manually light the pilot, and this should be done according to the appliance manufacturers instructions.

After the Storm

When returning from evacuation, check natural gas appliances for possible damage or leaks. If you smell a strong sulfur odor, leave immediately and call Pensacola Energy Emergency Services at (850) 474-5300. If no smell is present, operation of natural gas appliances should be safe. If a natural gas generator was in use for several days, the oil should be checked, and if necessary, changed.

Natural Gas Power Generators

In the event of power failure, the generator will return electricity to the structure within 30 seconds and continue providing electricity until the original power source has returned.

Storm Repair

During clean-up and repair, avoid natural gas interruption and damage to the gas lines by calling 811 from Florida and 1-800-432-4770 outside the state of Florida before digging.

Hurricanes are no match for Natural Gas (click for more info)


Making sure you're ready for hurricane season is important. But local agencies also make sure they are prepared. Okaloosa county holds hurricane drills to stay storm ready.

If a storm were to hit, this is how the EOC would look. A room packed with people working round the clock. You never know what to expect until a hurricane makes landfall - from flooding to wind damage - the county has to be prepared for anything.

"At the point of a disaster, the public still expects us to respond," said Randy McDaniel.

Officials from all over the county met at the emergency operations center in Niceville. People from the health department, the Red Cross and even representatives from Okaloosa County schools were at the drill.
The goal was to practice different "worst-case scenarios"

Using a make-believe hurricane named "Hurricane Lay" officials practiced what they would do if all communication was lost and if all the systems crashed.

"If we get them ready for worst case scenario, challenge them to the maximum," McDaniel said.

They have to work fast. In a real emergency, time is of the essence. McDaniel says it's important for the public to also prepare.

"We're going to be challenged on yo," McDaniel said.

Some residents we spoke with aren't too concerned for hurricane season because it's something they're used to.

"Just make sure my surf boards are waxed and ready to go," said Brandon Hromadka.

But others like to prepare ahead of time to avoid the chaos that comes when a storm is on the way

"Everyone is trying to prepare, when it does happen," said Douglas Pohl.

There are 23,000 people aboard NAS Pensacola.

So getting everyone ready for a storm can be a big challenge.

Hurricane Ivan ripped through NAS Pensacola in September 2004 causing millions of dollars in damage. Nearly 90 percent of the buildings on the base suffered significant damage.

And with more than 100 planes on base, NAS would never risk leaving them there. So, during a hurricane some jets will be put in hangars, others flown to different bases across the country. NAS could move its students to a Marine Corps logistics base in Albany, Georgia.

And you can't forget about your pets.
Some of the most enduring images and heartfelt stories coming out of hurricanes past are the ones involving pets.

One local vet has weathered many a storm taking care of hundreds of animals. He shares his experience -- and his top tips with us tonight.

You name it -- Veterinarian Ron Hayles has sheltered it.
(("During a hurricane, we'll take anything. We've had numerous birds, squirrels, terrariums, we've had gerbils. Anything, we take."))

Before, during and after a storm -- Hayles and his staff hunker down in the building of the coastal pet resort.

Hurricane Katrina brought hundreds of pets to his door. Many folks literally picked up pets off of the streets of New Orleans to keep them from drowning.
Hayles took many in for the duration and beyond.

(("We made posters, we made fliers and posters and they'd take 'em back home and post 'em on the local post office bulletin board or something. We got a lot of 'em back. We got some of them as long as two to three months before we found their original owners."))

Hayles is gearing up for storm season checking his backup generators, lights, fans and water supply.

(("We also have an agreement with the local power company that after the hurricane if we get, lose power, we're on a priority list along with the hospital. They'll put us back in within 24 hours."))

Hayles says pet owners need to do two things before storm season even begins gather your pets' documents together into a file; licenses, vaccinations, prescriptions and number two -- maybe even more importantly -- microchip your animal.

(("Just as prepared with your pets as you will as your family, cause they're part of the family."))
One more thing to remember, Hurricanes cause pressure changes that pets may detect.

Cats and dogs may become disoriented and will likely be scared of any loud storm noises during a storm.


Scenes like this of damage to boats after Hurricane Ivan can be surprising. But when hurricanes bring storm surges of several feet, boats can be tossed around like they're in a giant washing machine.

So what can you do to protect your boat if a hurricane threatens?

'The best thing to do is just to pull them out of the water and get them up on dry land, that's a good elevation so you don't have to worry about tidal surge, and get them anchored and properly secured," said John Naybor of Pensacola Marinas.

Everyone loves to spend time out on the water in a boat, but when winds and water combine in a hurricane, they can become dangerous. Pensacola has an estimated 2,000 boats in the water during the summer months. Local boat yards can only accommodate a few hundred at any given time.The rest have to be removed from the area, or stay somewhere in the water. The goal is to secure them.

"Double-tie your lines to be sure they are secure," Naybor said. "Make sure you don't have old, chaffed lines on the boat. Get everything that you can off so it's not going to blow off the boat. Just make sure it's secure and properly tied. You want to get it in as safe a place as you possibly can."

"If you live on a canal, you can move the boat out into the center of the canal and have lots of ropes tying it out so there's plenty of length on the ropes so if you have a tidal surge the boat will go up and down so the ropes won't snap or break any pilings," Naybor said.

Naybor says the biggest challenge they face each season is complacency.

"Right after Ivan and Dennis everybody was down here, on their boats, pulling the bimini's down, tying stuff up, what can I do to help, you know, and getting ready for the storm. Well, seven years later, not so much," Naybor said.

The best plan is to actually have a plan, and know when to put it in place.

"It's like putting shutters on your house, do i put the shutters up or do i not put the shutters up? So at some point you have to make the decision, what's my boat worth to me and how much preparing do I want to do?" Naybor said.

After Hurricane Ivan, Naybor had one million dollars in uninsured losses to the marinas. He says he doesn't underestimate any storm that comes this way.

"We take it very seriously and hopefully other people will."

Naybor says the best advice he could give would be to plan enough time to do what you need to do for your home and your boat because once the wind and waves kick up, it might be too late.

Strong winds and storm surge could potentially do tremendous damage to any structure built close to Pensacola Bay.

But the builders of Maritime Park have taken precautions to help it withstand any hurricane.The park is designed to face 165 mile per hour winds. Typical downtown buildings are made to face 150 mph winds.
But wind isn't the only threat in a hurricane. The storm surge is the most deadly.

"The building is on piles. So if the water comes up onto the site and scours away the soil, the piles will still be there. And the slabs are designed to span between the piles so the soil underneath the slabs can go away and the slabs will still be supported."

The park sits higher in elevation than the rest of downtown Pensacola. In theory it should be one of the last things to flood. On the inside, the "batter's eye" in center field is designed to collapse if the winds get strong enough.


And since the last big hurricane strike, social media has become more important than ever.

Your cell phone can give you extra information through sites.The National Weather Service mobile and the National Hurricane Center are tapping into social media with a Facebook and Twitter page.
Both can provide rapid update of information and you can take the information anywhere even if you evacuate.

You can even post weather damage, but be descriptive and include the location. Remember social media should be an added layer, weather radios and TV should be your primary sources.

Now is a good time to get out your insurance policy and make sure your coverage is up to date. But there could be changes in your premium thanks to recent decisions in Tallahassee.

For years now, people have been saying that Florida is only one costly storm away from financial catastrophe. With homeowners, businesses, charities, churches and even auto policyholders paying heavy "hurricane tax" assessments from past storms, we also face the risk of crippling new taxes down the road triggered by both citizens property insurance and the Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund.

With the state holding so many policies through citizens, lawmakers from inland areas fear assessments on all policyholders in the event of a cataclysmic hurricane. They are essentially asking, "should someone living in Molino be sudsidizing insurance on a luxury home in Miami?"

"It's all part of the cost of living here," Jim Barnes said. "And insurance when you look at it is a bet. The insurance company is betting that the catastrophe is not going to happen. You're betting that it is going to happen. And it all just comes down to dollars and cents."

And if the state's catastrophe fund cannot raise the money to pay its claims, millions of policyholders may suffer. There is serious concern that the catastrophe fund has little hope of financing an especially large storm or a second storm this season.

"I chose to live here, and I made that choice knowing all of that information," said Cynthia Howie. "And I think each part of the United States, or the world, has different options you have to consider when you make that choice. But the benefit far out weighs that in my opinion."

"The citizens have got to step up and to some degree they've got to chip in too," Barnes said. "You know it's going to hurt on both ends, and both are going to have to contribute. Otherwise, it's just not going to work."

The local insurance professionals say to make sure the company you choose has experience with storms if possible and a local agent you can work with.

Here in Florida, unfortunately we know hurricanes too well.

It seems each year we brace for the worst but hope for the best. We've had six named hurricanes in the past 20 years, plus countless tropical storms to directly impact our area. But we've been lucky over the past few years. Here's a look back at our hurricane history.

Hurricanes in Northwest Florida go all the way back to when we were first founded in 1559. Tristan de Luna anchored in Pensacola Bay to create a settlement but they didn't get far due to a storm.

There were many storms over the next four centuries, but the most recent memories are in the past 20 years.

In 1995, Hurricane Erin struck Fort Walton Beach and Defuniak Springs in August and thousands of homes were damaged.

The whole Pandhandle was hit on Oct. 4, 1995 when Hurricane Opal struck from Pensacola Beach to east of Destin. The damage cost more than one billion dollars.

After that double whammy in 1995, there was a break for ten years. The next storm to hit the Gulf was Hurricane Ivan in September 2004 as a category five major hurricane. Winds reached as high as 165 miles per hour and the storm surge knocked down part of the I-10 bridge.

The wind and rain leveled pretty much all of Perdido Key and caused extensive damage to the Gulf Coast .The damage was 18 billion dollars and more than 91 people died from the storm.

Hurricane Dennis hit less than a year later just 30 miles east of where Ivan made landfall but caused far less damage.

Since Ivan and Dennis, we've had a few storms threaten the Panhandle but dodged those bullets with Katrina in 2005 and Gustav in 2008. Last August, Hurricane Isaac came through the area but was much weaker than expected.

Hopefully Mother Nature will give us a quiet year, but hurricanes have been a part of our past and unfortunately they will be a part of our future.

Hurricane Sandy was last year's major storm coming ashore just northeast of Atlantic City, New Jersey. The Category Three storm killed 285 people and caused at least 70 billion dollars in damage.

The Atlantic Coast is still cleaning up.
"It's like yesterday."
Time has passed but for this couple Sandy scars are still raw.

"Nobody could get answers."
Like many in this neighborhood, they prepared as best they could when they heard Hurricane Sandy was headed their way.

"Perfect example of pay attention."
But they couldn't have imagined the utter devastation. The ruins they would still be picking from more than 6 mos. later.

"The red tape a thousand times over."
In New York alone, 41 people were killed.
27,000 homes damaged.
454 destroyed and 2 million people were left without power.

In this neighborhood what started as a barbeque has grown to a large community relief center.

Volunteers come here everyday to supply residents with food, water, power and conversation.
"I don't have a stove, anything to eat."

"I've watched the tears, the anger, the tears again, the frustration and 6 mos later I'm still serving food. That alone should say something."

As some struggle, others celebrate, roads, buildings, schools are reopening every week.
At this school the storm sent 5 feet of water cascading in..
"We're back and everything's ok."

The name "Sandy" is being retired from the list of tropical storm names because of the catastrophic damage. The name "Sara" will take its place. Storm names are recycled every 6 years unless they're retired because of damage and casualties. Sandy is the 77th storm name taken off the list since 1954.

During Hurricane Ivan -- the Gulf Breeze Zoo lost more than 200 trees, some structures and was closed for months.

Like everyone living along the Gulf Coast at that time the staff learned many lessons from Ivan.

Generators were bought special lighting installed and strict procedures put in place to better cope with the next disaster.

Food for 350 animals -- that's the daily task keepers face.
Add a hurricane -- and you are talking a ton of prep.
"We have enough food on hand for our animals for at least a week and then we have enough food for our keepers and our operations department that are staying for about a week as well."

Kayte Wanko's in charge of the Gulf Breeze Zoo's 12 page hurricane plan.

"As we have new arrivals come in, part of the Acquisition Protocol is to add them to our hurricane plan. So we have a plan for every animal that's here individually."

Five days before a storm is forecast to hit -- the zoo's two sister facilities in Virginia Begin transporting many of the smaller mammals like the lemurs north.
Giraffes are highly sensitive creatures, they too are taken to Virginia.
Because they're so high strung keeper Desiree Hager says it can take 6-8 hours just to load them.

"They actually make giraffe trailers and you can crank the top half of it up for as tall as your giraffe is and we have pretty tall giraffes."

Animals like the red river hog will stay in night houses. Hager invited us in.

"You guys are the first ones to see the inside of one of our night houses."
The concrete enclosures fared well during hurricanes Ivan and Dennis. Hager weathered both of those storms while working here.

She's the curator of the 146 preserve animals.

Hager says during a hurricane -- those species will stay "free range".
She says they'll innately "hunker down and ride it out."
"They're good out here. It's in their nature. Their genes just know what to do during a storm."

Wanko says right after a storm -- keepers race to check their charges.
"Observation is about 90 per cent of our job so we're really good at watching our animals and knowing them based on behavior."


Emergency Management Information:
Escambia County Emergency Management


Santa Rosa County Emergency Management

Okaloosa County Emergency Management

Baldwin County Emergency Management



National Hurricane Center
American Red Cross
American Red Cross of Northwest Florida

Additional County information
Escambia County
Important telephone numbers
Hurricane video-disaster guide
Before the storm
General Safety information
Tropical Storm and Hurricanes
Thunder & Lightning
Escambia County Shelters
Animal preparedness
Flood information
Insurance claim tips

Santa Rosa County:
Hurricane Center information
Hurricane shopping guide
Disaster Guide
Evacuation Zone map
Storm Ready

Okaloosa County
Severe Weather center
Hurricane Preparation center
Tracking map
Disaster supply kits
Emergency Plan
Evacuation routes and shelters
Internet resources

Baldwin County
Disaster preparedness for pets and animals
Storm surge
Weather alerts
Road Closures

Hurricane Preparedness Maps - WEAR ABC Channel 3

Hurricane Preparedness Maps - WEAR ABC Channel 3

Hurricane Preparedness Maps - WEAR ABC Channel 3

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