Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Ernesto fizzles - Tampa Bay tropical storm warnings, watches canceled

Great news for Big Cat Rescue!


Tropical Storm Ernesto is moving north-northwest through South Florida at 8 mph with maximum sustained winds of 45 mph.

Bay News 9 meteorologists said the storm going through central Florida is a far better scenario than staying in the gulf or the Atlantic Ocean.

The current forecast calls for the storm to head through Florida and out to the Atlantic Ocean, then rapidly move into the Carolinas.

A flood watch is in effect for Polk, Pinellas, Hillsborough and Manatee counties until the evening. An inland tropical storm warning has been posted for Polk County.

There are no longer any hurricane watches posted for Ernesto in Florida. Tropical storm warnings are in effect for Florida's entire east coast and from Bonita Beach south to the Florida Keys.

A tropical storm watch that had been in effect for the Gulf Coast from Tarpon Springs to Englewood has been dropped. title=Ernesto%20moves%20across%20South%20Florida

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Rain, occasional squalls in Tampa - severe weather will stay to the east

Last Edited: Tuesday, 29 Aug 2006, 4:58 PM EDT

TAMPA – As Tropical Storm Ernesto moves closer to Florida, questions still loom about where the storm will end up. FOX 13's weather team is keeping a close eye on its projected track.

The 5 p.m. advisory from the National Hurricane Center indicated Ernesto was located at 24.3N, 80.2W, having moved into the open water in the Florida Straits. It was centered about 100 miles south of MIami, and it was moving northwest at 13 mph.

FOX 13 Meteorologist Howard Shapiro said this latest advisory shows some slight changes to the projected path of the storm, but not a significant overall change.

The new track takes the storm slightly further to the west than originally anticipated. The latest advisory indicates that the storm would move slightly up Florida's west coast by 8 a.m. Wednesday, and then make the right turn forecasters have been expecting. It would continue across the state, exiting somewhere near Jacksonville.

With the morning advisory came a tropical storm watch for much of the Bay Area. The watch extends all the way up the west coast of Florida to Tarpon Springs.

Shapiro says if this track holds true, it would mean that Hardee, Desoto, Polk, and Highlands Counties would see some effects of the storm. But, he says Skytower HD Vipir indicates it's still the east coast that will bear the brunt of the weather.

"With most of the active weather in a tropical system on its east side, then the brunt of this is going to be hitting the east coast of our state more than it is the west coast of our state," Shapiro said.

He says the Bay Area can expect some rainy weather with occasional squalls moving through, but most of the severe weather that comes with the storm will stay to our east.

Shapiro says we can expect to see conditions continue to deteriorate late tonight and continuing through tomorrow.

The storm is expected to accelerate as it moves north through Florida.

Inland tropical storm watch extended for Tampa Bay area

MIAMI, Florida (AP) — Forecasters say Tropical Storm Ernesto is pulling away from the Cuban coast and moving toward Florida, but they also say the storm hasn't strengthened yet.

An inland tropical storm watch is in effect for Pinellas, Hillsborough, Manatee and Sarasota counties. Polk, DeSoto, Hardee and Highlands counties are now under an inland tropical storm warning. Also, forecasters at the National Hurricane Center now say a coastal tropical storm watch is in effect from Englewood north to Tarpon Springs.

At 11 am, Eastern Time, Ernesto was packing 45 mile-per-hour winds and was about 180 miles south-southeast of Miami, moving northwest at 13 miles-per-hour.

Forecasters expect outer bands from Ernesto to hit the Miami area this afternoon, with weather getting worse into the evening. But they say the storm remains disorganized, and only modest strengthening is expected. They say the chance of it becoming a hurricane before hitting Florida is remote.

However, forecasters say there is a chance that Ernesto could become a hurricane after it leaves Florida and takes aim at the Carolinas.

Ernesto: 5 a.m. advisory for Tuesday

Miami, Florida - The National Hurricane Center says a tropical storm warning has been extended north along Florida's Atlantic coast to New Smyrna Beach.

A tropical storm warning and a hurricane watch are now in effect from New Smyrna Beach southward on the east coast, including Lake Okeechobee, from Bonita Beach southward on the west coast and for all of the Florida Keys from Ocean Reef to the Dry Tortugas. A hurricane warning may be required for portions of South Florida and the Florida Keys later this morning.

At 5 am, the center of Tropical Storm Ernesto was located about 230 miles southeast of Key West and about 235 miles from Miami. It's moving toward the northwest near 14 mph and this general motion is expected to continue for the next 24 hours.

On the forecast track, the center of Ernesto will be near the Florida Keys or southeast Florida by this evening. However, squally rainbands will be moving onshore these areas during the afternoon.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Ernesto moving off Cuba

Monday, August 28, 2006

Tropical Storm Ernesto's winds have slowed to near 40 mph, down from 75 mph earlier Sunday when it became the first hurricane of the Atlantic season.

As of 6 p.m. Monday, Ernesto was at 21.3 N and 76.9 W., moving off Cuba's northern coast. It is moving NW at 13 mph and its barometric pressure is at 1007 mb.

Storm warnings and watches are:

Tropical storm watch for Polk County
Tropical storm warning for southeast Florida and the Keys
Tropical storm watch on the southwest coast from Sarasota County southward
Hurricane watch on the east coast from New Smyrna Beach southward through the Keys

Bay News 9 chief meteorologist Mike Clay said the storm is currently poorly organized. Clay said the National Hurricane Center is keeping Ernesto as a tropical storm across Florida, not strengthening into a hurricane until it's past Florida.

Ernesto could affect the Florida peninsula by Wednesday.

Ernesto moved onshore in eastern Cuba Monday morning, after lashing the southern coast of Haiti and the Dominican Republic with heavy rain Sunday, flooding homes. At least one person was killed.

Bay News 9 meteorologists said Ernesto was downgraded because it interacted with the land mass of Hispaniola and its wind speed fell to 60 mph. However, it could regain strength rapidly once it emerges over open waters.

Meanwhile, the Polk County Emergency Operations Center has partially activated with minimal staff. There are no plans to open shelters unless the hurricane track changes. Other EOC's in the Bay area will meet today to decide their course of action.

Florida getting ready for brush with Tropical Storm Ernesto

The 11 a.m. update from the National Hurricane Center has Ernesto's most likely path going well east of Tampa, but Tampa is still in the "cone of probability".


KEY WEST, Fla. (AP) — Floridians are getting ready for a brush with Tropical Storm Ernesto.

About 400 miles of coast are under a hurricane watch from New Smyrna Beach southward on the east coast and from Chokoloskee southward on the west coast. Sustained winds of at least 74 miles-an-hour are possible by late tomorrow night. The Keys were put under a watch yesterday afternoon.

The National Hurricane Center says that's because Ernesto could become a hurricane after it reaches the warm waters north of Cuba. Forecasters say there is a ten percent chance of hurricane-force winds striking South Florida and a 60 percent chance of tropical storm-force winds.

A state of emergency is in effect for all Florida, because forecasters say Ernesto could potentially threaten a large swath of the state by late in the week.

At 11 am, the storm had top sustained winds of 40 miles-an-hour. It's centered over Cuba, about 35 miles northwest of Guantanamo, and about 485 miles southeast from Key West. It's moving northwest at ten miles-an-hour.

Click here to watch our 24-hour weather channel online.

Tropical Storm Ernesto: 5 am advisory out

Miami, Florida - Forecasters from the National Hurricane Center issued a hurricane watch for the southern peninsula of Florida as Tropical Storm Ernesto grows closer today.

The watch was issued from Deerfield Beach near Boca Raton southward on the east coast and from Chokoloskee southward on the west coast. A hurricane watch remained in effect for all of the Florida Keys, according to the latest 5 AM advisory.

Ernesto had maximum sustained winds of 50 miles-per-hour today. But forecasters cautioned that the storm could regain hurricane strength before its anticipated arrival today on Cuba's southeastern coast.

A hurricane watch means hurricane conditions could develop in the area within 36 hours.

Visitors were ordered to leave the Keys yesterday and Governor Jeb Bush issued a state of emergency because of the possibility that Ernesto could threaten much of the state.

At 5 am, the fifth named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season was centered 45 miles south-southeast of Guantanamo, Cuba, and about 600 miles from the middle and lower Keys. Ernesto is moving northwest at 12 miles-per-hour.

Click here to watch our 24-hour weather channel online.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Ernesto now a hurricane

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Tropical Storm Ernesto strengthened into the first hurricane of the year in the Atlantic basin early Sunday morning in the Caribbean, with landfall possible in the Florida peninsula Thursday.

Its winds increased to 75 mph, thus the upgrade to hurricane status.

Ernesto's location is about 115 miles of Port Au Prince, Haiti, and 210 miles south southeast of Guantanamo, Cuba, as it moves toward the northwest at nine miles an hour.

According to Bay News 9 meteorologist Josh Linker, Ernesto's intensity prior to reaching the Gulf of Mexico will be determined by how much time it spends over Cuba. title=Ernesto%20now%20a%20hurricane

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

NOAA: August 2006 Update to Atlantic Hurricane Season Outlook

Issued: 8 August 2006

Atlantic Hurricane Outlook & Seasonal Climate Summary Archive


NOAA continues to predict a high likelihood (75% chance) of an above-normal 2006 Atlantic hurricane season and a 20% chance of a near-normal season, according to a consensus of scientists at National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Climate Prediction Center (CPC), National Hurricane Center (NHC), and Hurricane Research Division (HRD). Therefore, 2006 is forecast to be the tenth above-normal season in the last twelve years. See NOAA’s definitions of above-, near-, and below-normal seasons.

This updated outlook calls for a seasonal total of 12-15 named storms, with 7-9 becoming hurricanes, and 3-4 becoming major hurricanes (categories 3-5 on the Saffir-Simpson hurricane intensity scale). The likely range of NOAA’s Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE) index (Bell and Halpert, 2000) is 110%-170% of the median. These totals include the three tropical storms (Alberto, Beryl, and Chris) that have already occurred. Therefore, for the remainder of the season, we expect an additional 9-12 named storms, 7-9 hurricanes, and 3-4 major hurricanes.

The predicted 2006 activity mainly reflects a continuation of conditions associated with the multi-decadal signal, which has favored above-normal Atlantic hurricane seasons since 1995. These conditions include warmer than average sea surface temperatures (SSTs), lower vertical wind shear, reduced sea level pressure, and a more conducive structure of the African easterly jet.

While we are predicting an active season, a repeat of last year’s record season is unlikely. The season is also expected to be slightly less active than previously forecast on 22 May 2006, when 13-16 Named Storms, 8-10 hurricanes, and 4-6 major hurricanes were predicted. The expected activity is lower for three reasons: 1) atmospheric and oceanic conditions are not as conducive as previously forecast, 2) the transition away from La NiƱa-like rainfall patterns occurred more quickly than expected, and 3) the very persistent upper-level ridge pattern over the eastern U.S. and western Atlantic, which contributed to the extremely active 2003-2005 hurricane seasons, is not present.


Full report available at:

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Some disasters cannot be prevented, but others can. Watch this Alley Cat Avatar talk about the 2005 Hurricane season and what we can do to prevent some disasters.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Prepare your pets for the next disaster

Series on Hurricane Preparedness in Florida

Disaster recovery officials with the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) Florida Long-Term Recovery Office and Florida’s State Emergency Response Team (SERT) urge you to have a disaster plan for your pets in preparation for the new hurricane season.

"The destructive hurricanes of 2004 and 2005 underscored the importance of accounting for animal needs during major disasters," said Scott Morris, FEMA Director for Florida Long-Term Recovery.

With hurricane season upon us, your pets need to be included in your family emergency plan.

"People must have a disaster plan that includes their pets," said Laura Bevan, southeast regional director for the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). "Our best advice is if you evacuate, take your pet with you."

Bevan has been working with local governments and volunteer groups in establishing pet-friendly shelters. Many Florida counties have shelters where people can evacuate with their pets, including Broward, Marion and Orange Counties. Bevan describes the shelters as having "people in one building and the animals close by in another part of the building and the people take care of their own pets."

To find out if there is a pet-friendly shelter in your area, call your county emergency management office or check the office's Web site. You should also contact your veterinarian or local humane society for information on preparing your pets for an emergency.

Before the disaster: Have a safe place to take your pets

• Plan your evacuation strategy and don't forget your pet! If you plan to shelter your pet-work it into your evacuation route planning.

• Service animals that assist people with disabilities are allowed in Red Cross shelters. It may be difficult to find shelter for your animals in the midst of a disaster, so plan ahead. Do not wait until disaster strikes to do your research. Many communities are developing pet-friendly shelter plans, check to see if your local emergency shelter plan includes pets.

• Specialized pet shelters, animal control shelters, veterinary clinics and friends and relatives out of harm's way are ALL potential refuges for your pet during a disaster.

• Contact hotels and motels outside your immediate area to check policies on accepting pets and restrictions on number, size, and species. Ask if "no pet" policies could be waived in an emergency. Keep a list of "pet friendly" places, including phone numbers, with other disaster information and supplies. If you have notice of an impending disaster, call ahead for reservations. Go to to search on-line for pet friendly hotels and motels.

• Prepare a list of boarding facilities and veterinarians who could shelter animals in an emergency; include 24-hour phone numbers.

• Ask local animal shelters if they provide emergency shelter or foster care for pets in a disaster. Animal shelters may be overburdened caring for the animals they already have as well as those displaced by a disaster, so this should be your last resort.

• Prepare a portable disaster supply kit for your pet

• Keep items in an accessible place and store them in sturdy containers that can be carried easily

• Proper identification, including immunization records, and current photos

• Ample supply of food and water

• A carrier or cage, pet beds and toys

• Medications, medical records and a first aid kit

• Sturdy leashes, harnesses, and/or carriers to transport pets safely and ensure that your animals can't escape.

• Information on feeding schedules, medical conditions, behavior problems, and the name and number of your veterinarian in case you have to foster or board your pets.

Know what to do as a disaster approaches

Often, warnings are issued hours, even days, in advance. At the first hint of disaster, act to protect your pet.

Call ahead to confirm emergency shelter arrangements for you and your pets.

Check to be sure your pet disaster supplies are ready to take at a moment’s notice.

Bring all pets into the house so that you won’t have to search for them if you have to leave in a hurry.

Make sure all dogs and cats are wearing collars and securely fastened up-to-date identification.

Attach the phone number and address of your temporary shelter, if you know it, or of a friend or relative outside the disaster area. You can buy temporary tags or put adhesive tape on the back of your pet’s ID tag, adding information with an indelible pen.

You may not be home when the evacuation order comes. Find out if a trusted neighbor would be willing to take your pets and meet you at a prearranged location. This person should be comfortable with your pets, know where your animals are likely to be, know where your pet disaster supplies kit is kept, and have a key to your home. If you use a pet-sitting service, they may be available to help, but discuss the possibility well in advance.

Planning and preparation will enable you to evacuate with your pets quickly and safely. But bear in mind that animals react differently under stress. Outside your home and in the car, keep dogs securely leashed. Transport cats in carriers. Don’t leave animals unattended anywhere they can run off. The most trustworthy pets may panic, hide, try to escape, or even bite or scratch. And, when you return home, give your pets time to settle back into their routines. Consult your veterinarian if any behavior problems persist.

Check out these Web sites for further information on disaster preparations for your pet:

Florida State Emergency Response Team:;

Humane Society of the US:;

Information on Pet-friendly hotels:

FEMA manages federal response and recovery efforts following any national incident. FEMA also initiates mitigation activities, works with state and local emergency managers, and manages the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). FEMA became part of the US Department of Homeland Security on March 1, 2003.

SERT is a collaboration of Florida’s state agencies led by the state coordinating officer. SERT’s mission is to ensure that Florida is prepared to respond to emergencies, recover from them, and mitigate their impacts. Visit for the latest information on the hurricane relief efforts.

Thursday, June 15, 2006


Tropical Storm Alberto brought much needed rain to the sanctuary and
helped raise our lake level. The tigers loved hanging out in the wet and
cool weather. We have been preparing for the 2006 storm season by
trimming the weaker tree branches, and going over safety issues.
Lets keep our paws crossed that this season wont bring us or anyone any
serious damage.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Tropical Storm Alberto swirling onshore now

The center of Tropical Storm Alberto (maximum sustained winds 50 mph) is swirling onshore in the Big Bend area of Florida now. The storm will continue to weaken as it moves northeastward over land this afternoon, nonetheless it will dump heavy rain on parts of the Southeast. Flood watches are posted from parts of eastern Georgia through eastern South Carolina into southeastern North Carolina. In addition to the threat of locally heavy downpours, isolated tornadoes are possible over northern Florida and southeastern Georgia into this afternoon.


Alberto's maximum wind gusts on land so far have been near 60 mph. Winds will continue to spin down over the next several hours as the center of the storm moves through extreme northern Florida into far southeastern Georgia. A few damaging wind gusts from thunderstorms and isolated tornadoes will be the worst effects.


Alberto is expected to become extratropical tomorrow as it churns northeastward through the eastern Carolinas. Locally heavy cloudbursts and gusty winds will continue, but widespread damage or flooding seems unlikely.



For the cats,


Carole Baskin, CEO of Big Cat Rescue

an Educational Sanctuary home

to more than 100 big cats

12802 Easy Street Tampa, FL  33625

813.493.4564 fax 885.4457

Sign our petition here:


This message contains information from Big Cat Rescue that may be confidential or privileged. The information contained herein is intended only for the eyes of the individual or entity named above.  You are hereby notified that any dissemination, distribution, disclosure, and/or copying of the information contained in this communication is strictly prohibited. The recipient should check this e-mail and any attachments for the presence of viruses. Big Cat Rescue accepts no liability for any damage or loss caused by any virus transmitted by this e-mail.


2006 Hurricane Predictions

Here comes hurricane season 2006. So what should we expect for the Atlantic basin? Or more likely your question may be, "what do we expect for the U.S.," or maybe, "will my town/city get hit by a hurricane this year?" Well those are popular questions these days, but unfortunately none are easy to answer!


Let me start with the first and easiest question, namely overall Atlantic basin activity. Some seasonal forecasters have been doing this for many years and the "father" of seasonal tropical cyclone forecasting is Dr. Bill Gray. The Weather Channel usually reports on his forecasts as he updates them into the peak of Atlantic hurricane season. His skill in forecasting above or below activity has been well beyond guessing or random chance. The latest forecast by Dr. Gray and his colleague Phil Klotzbach, which was issued in April (an update is coming next week), was for 17 named storms, including 9 hurricanes and 5 major (Category 3+) hurricanes.


NOAA's outlook, which came out a few days ago, is similar, for 13 to 16 storms, with 8 to 10 becoming hurricanes, of which 4 to 6 could become major hurricanes.


Much of this might be gleaned from inspection of averages for the past 11 Atlantic hurricane seasons starting in 1995 that began an active tropical cyclone era. As an example, averages for the past eleven years are: 15 named storms, 8 1/2 hurricanes and 4 major hurricanes. This compares to the long-term average of 10 named storms, 6 hurricanes and 2 major hurricanes. Hence we have "averaged" about 150% of the long term average the past 11 years. With no strong El Nino in sight (strong El Ninos are typically associated with suppressed hurricane activity in the Atlantic) one might decide a good starting point for this season would therefore be 15, 9 and 4.


With a large portion of the tropical Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico warmer than average (though not quite as warm as a portion of it was at this time last year), that might spur a seasonal forecaster to tweak their numbers a little. But no model or person will forecast 28 storms (27 tropical, one subtropical) as we had last year; extremes tend to be outliers, and are routinely out of the range of statistical forecast techniques. As an example Dr. Gray's forecast at this time last year was for 15 named storms. Regardless, though, it appears we are in for another busy hurricane season in the Atlantic Basin.


But that doesn't necessarily equate to an active U.S. landfall season. For example let's compare two of the recent active years, namely 2004 and 2001. There were 15 storms in 2001, the same (counting one subtropical storm) in 2004, with 9 hurricanes in each year. However there were no U.S. hurricanes and no U.S. major hurricane landfalls in 2001, but there were 5 U.S. hurricane landfalls (plus a direct hit by Alex) and 3 U.S. major hurricane landfalls in 2004!


The bottom line, it is not how many we get in the Atlantic Basin that should be of interest to you, rather how many that make landfall, where they hit and how strong they are when they make landfall. One other note: in the first 9 of the last 11 active years the U.S. was more fortunate than average with hurricane and major hurricane strikes. That changed in 2004 and 2005.





I see you -- there you sit on the coast nervously waiting for hurricane season and "hoping" you won't get hit. But it only takes one, so do not fret over these seasonal forecasts. Instead do something about it.


If I were the great fortune teller of hurricanes and was never wrong, and I told you your city would be hit by a Category 3 hurricane on August 1, what would/could you do? Well, you could try to sell your home and move away, but buyers would have heard about the great fortune teller's forecast too, so good luck selling!


You would make sure you were safely out of town on August 1st. But that still leaves your home.


So if you were smart you would immediately beef up your home's ability to withstand high winds. That would include window shutters/coverings or hurricane windows; reinforcing the garage door; adding very strong roof/wall/floor tie-downs; trimming the trees near your roof; strengthening walls that might not hold up in that Category 3; and making sure roof shingles/tiles are all well intact. If you built on the beach you might even consider raising your home on hurricane-proof piles so it sits well above surge and wave threats. You would probably make copies all your irreplaceable items and put those copies in waterproof containers and send them to Aunt Martha's house in Iowa for safe keeping in case you lose the originals in that hurricane.


That is about all you could do: MITIGATE against the onslaught of the impending hurricane!


Unfortunately, I do not have a crystal ball, nor does anyone else! So what are you waiting for? If you live on or near a hurricane-prone coastline, you should know you have the potential to be struck by one in ANY year. Forget worrying about these seasonal forecasts, and get busy preparing for the worst. Fortunately most years will be false alarms, and you will be just fine in your particular location. But you will be ready when your fortune runs out!



For the cats,


Carole Baskin, CEO of Big Cat Rescue

an Educational Sanctuary home

to more than 100 big cats

12802 Easy Street Tampa, FL  33625

813.493.4564 fax 885.4457

Sign our petition here:


This message contains information from Big Cat Rescue that may be confidential or privileged. The information contained herein is intended only for the eyes of the individual or entity named above.  You are hereby notified that any dissemination, distribution, disclosure, and/or copying of the information contained in this communication is strictly prohibited. The recipient should check this e-mail and any attachments for the presence of viruses. Big Cat Rescue accepts no liability for any damage or loss caused by any virus transmitted by this e-mail.



Tropical Storm Alberto is only effecting Big Cat Rescue with gusty winds and a potential for a storm surge that could effect the Founder and President's homes, but unlikely to reach as far north as the sanctuary grounds. Staff is preparing the sanctuary by bringing in anything that can become a missile and by reassuring the cats that we will be fine this year as we have been in years past.