Storm reminds us to stay prepared

Emilio and Conchy Gonzalez of The Villages take shelter from the rain as they leave the Saddlebrook Softball Complex.

Get your raincoats ready. A tropical depression near the Bahamas is approaching Florida. The depression is expected to remain offshore of Florida’s east coast and dissipate by Wednesday, according to the National Hurricane Center. Even if it doesn’t strengthen into a tropical storm or hurricane, it’s predicted to soak the Sunshine State. In The Villages, people may expect scattered showers and thunderstorms today through Saturday, the National Weather Service stated. Rain chances range from 40% to 70%, with the highest chance expected Wednesday. The depression will become a tropical storm if it reaches a top wind speed of 39 mph or more. If that happens, it will become Tropical Storm Chantal, the third named storm of the season. Here’s what Villagers and area residents need to know as this weather approaches.

Watch for heavy rainfall

Relentless downpours tend to be the primary hazard of weak hurricanes, tropical storms and tropical depressions, said Dave Towle, WVLG 102.7 & 640 AM weather forecaster. He urged caution when driving in the rain and walking near areas with standing water.

Lightning likely

The weather service’s forecast gives a high chance of thunderstorms, which can produce dangerous lightning. When lightning occurs, seek an indoor shelter as soon as possible and stay away from anywhere lightning may travel such as showers, faucets and corded phones.

Outages possible

Severe weather often disrupts power. If you experience an outage during a rainstorm, report it by calling 800-732-6141 if you’re a SECO Energy customer or 800-228-8485 if you’re a Duke Energy customer.

Stay connected

Towle encourages people to have a battery-powered NOAA weather alert radio, which broadcasts weather watches, forecasts and hazards in a particular vicinity. Villagers also may stay updated on the storm by listening to WVLG 102.7 FM & 640 AM, he said.

Stock up

Any chance of a severe storm reminds Floridians they must prepare for the worst. There’s still 131 days left in the hurricane season. Residents can prepare for the rest of the season by stockpiling supplies such as food and bottled water, as well as by creating a hurricane plan.