As many as 23 named storms are predicted for hurricane season this year, as officials predict a higher-than-average season some are likening to the year that brought us Katrina.
Forecasters are predicting 14 to 23 storms this season, with eight to 14 becoming hurricanes and three to seven becoming what is designated as a major storm — a hurricane winds in excess of 111 mph.
Hurricane season began on June 1 and officials on the national, state and local level are again united as they issue their annual call to action: Be prepared.
Officials say public awareness and preparedness are the best defenses against a hurricane, and we agree.
It's time again to gather documents, compile supplies and put together evacuation plans.
Among the things the state recommends we should all have stockpiled now through Nov. 30: Water and non-perishable food and snacks to last three to seven days; a non-electric can opener, paper plates and utensils we won't have to wash; flashlights and other portable, self-powered light sources; batteries, medications and ice chests.
Officials also suggest we ready portable and NOAA weather-band radios and waterproof tarps, and that we make sure we have containers of fuel for propane grills or portable generators.
Storm shutters or plywood for windows remain a good idea for battening down the hatches if and when a watch is issued.
If ordered to evacuate, we should all have important papers, Social Security cards, immunization records, cash and prescription medications at the ready along with special supplies for children, and carriers and food for any pets.
We will keep you updated, on-line — www.captivasanibel.com — and in print, as the season progresses. We invite you to sign up for our new Facebook and Twitter notifications, which will provide you with updates as they are received by our newsroom. The icon to sign up can be found on the top right hand of our homepage — just click on the page and then select "like" to stay informed.
We also urge island residents to make sure you have your hurricane vehicle hangtags on hand. They are available through the Sanibel Police Department; the 2009 hangtags are still in effect for the current hurricane season. For additional information, call the Sanibel Hurricane Hotline at 1-800-933-6093.
Be prepared. Be safe. And may this "active" season pass without any storms for the record books.
— Reporter editorial