Forecaster shares tips on being storm aware

Sarah Deming of Home Depot, left, helps Sheri Alston of the Village of Pine Hills, as she shops for Hurricane Irma supplies at Home Depot in Lady Lake. Dave Towle suggests people prepare for severe weather, such as a hurricane.

Living through blizzards in Massachusetts, Dave Towle was used to severe weather coming to him.

But the senior forecaster for AM-640 WVLG traveled in the path of severe weather for the first time in his life this weekend. A trip to see relatives in Fort Myers led him through the path of what is now Hurricane Gordon.

“This is what these weather nuts do,” said Towle, of the Village of La Belle. “It was pretty heavy rain showers with some thunderstorms naturally included in that.”

Gordon’s outer bands were felt Monday in The Villages and surrounding communities as the then-tropical storm headed northwest in the direction of Gulf states.

Beyond Gordon, the National Hurricane Center also is tracking Hurricane Florence and a tropical disturbance near the Cabo Verde Islands, both of which are expected to follow a west-northwest path.

Towle answered questions about the current storms and what Villagers should be aware of as the hurricane season hits its peak.

Why is there so much storm activity in the Atlantic right now?

A high-pressure area known as the Bermuda high is sitting over the Atlantic Ocean, Towle said. A Bermuda high steers storms westward, according to the National Weather Service.

Florida’s geography between two coasts also favors abundant tropical moisture, Towle said.

“The wind flow is from the east to the west, and Florida happens to be right in the middle of that wind flow,” he said. “As a result, with all that ocean out there, it’s bringing in plenty of moisture.”

Will Gordon continue to affect Central Florida?

No, because the storm is now moving toward the Gulf.

But Florida itself is not completely out of the woods if you focus on the Panhandle, Towle said.

Panhandle residents may awaken today to a storm threatening hurricane-force winds, gusts in the 80- to 90-mile range and storm surge from 3 to 5 feet, he said.

How will Hurricane Florence or the disturbance formed near Africa affect Florida?

The chance of either happening is not likely at the moment, Towle said.

The west-northwest track of Hurricane Florence shows it moving at a slow crawl around 12 mph as it aims for Bermuda.

National Hurricane Center forecasters expect the tropical wave a few hundred miles south of the Cabo Verde Islands to follow a similar path.

“If I were in Bermuda, I’d be watching the weather very closely,” Towle said.

What should people do when severe weather concerns them?

Prepare for it, Towle said.

“I would strongly suggest they prepare themselves for a hurricane situation, which would include the necessities like extra water and extra food,” he said.

The benefit of preparing early is that even if one forecasted storm doesn’t strike Florida, they’re ready for when the next one does, Towle said.

Michael Salerno is a senior writer with The Villages Daily Sun. He can be reached at 352-753-1119, ext. 5369, or michael.salerno@thevillagesmedia.com.