Hurricane season hits close to home the same day Japan is slammed by a major typhoon

Quimby Mug Bayou Florida Headshot
Updated Sep 5, 2018

The rain came today—and it kept coming courtesy of Tropical Storm Gordon.

Having lived in Northwest Florida for over 20 years, I’ve become accustomed to hurricane season and the fury it can bring.

We didn’t get hit very badly today in Panama City. Some minor wind and a lot of rain coupled with some coastal erosion brought on by high surf. The worst of it is expected to hit west of us in Mississippi where the National Hurricane Center warns that Gordon could reach hurricane status by the time it makes landfall tonight.

In preparation for the storm, workers on 54 oil and gas production platforms in the Gulf of Mexico were evacuated, traffic lights were pulled down along various road and dozens of tall lights along Interstate 10 were lowered down, according to the Associated Press.

The month of September tends to be the most active during hurricane season which lasts from June 1 to November 30. You can’t say enough about being prepared. I was reminded of that during an interview today with Todd Mouw, president of Roush CleanTech. The phone cut-out during the rain. I called Mouw back and thankfully the connection remained.

During moments like these, you can’t help but think about your storm plan. There was only one time when a storm knocked out our cell phones and landlines and we had to fall back on CBs to stay in touch with relatives across town. But that was about 15 years ago. Phone reliability has increased a lot since then.

I’m big on communication, so I’ve held onto CBs, VHF radios, antennas and cell phones through the years. (Admittedly, I’m intrigued with 12-volt survival.) I once reported on local ham radio operators in our area who have an impressive plan in place for maintaining communication when needed.

My generator and propane supply stand at the ready. It wasn’t too long ago when a storm knocked out power and I was left boiling potatoes on my grill’s side burner. The mashed potatoes turned out well.

Propane never looked so good as when the power goes out and leaves you without a range. Worse yet, a storm could leave you without a dependable supply of diesel and gas.

Tucker Perkins, president of the Propane Education & Research Council (PERC), reminded an audience earlier this year at the Advanced Clean Transportation Expo in Long Beach, Calif. that propane is the fuel of choice during emergencies. Much-needed trucks, generators, pumps, pressure washers, mosquito control devices and even cell phone towers can remain at the ready when brutal storms strike like Hurricanes Irma and Harvey which walloped the gulf coast last season.

Besides having a Plan B in place with an alternative fuel like propane, it’s smart having an app at your fingertips like Telogis’ RouteCloud to keep a fleet up and running.

HWT’s partner publication, Commercial Carrier Journal, reported last year after Hurricanes Harvey and Irma how cloud-based apps, like RouteCloud, kept businesses going and able to meet their customers’ needs when it counted most.

Telogis, part of the Verizon Telematics division, went to work during the storms and kept a close eye on the weather and road closures with help from the National Weather Service and first responders. Verizon fleet workers in storm-effected areas also provided updates. Information was in turn passed along to fleets who planned their routes accordingly.

Road closure policies vary from place to place. Here in Panama City, once winds reach a sustained 40 mph, the Florida Highway Patrol confers with local authorities regarding bridge closures. Shutting down bridges here in Bay county—which is home to four bays and God knows how many bayous—can impact life here in a hurry.

In watching this video posted below, I couldn’t help but wonder why these trucks in Japan were even out on this high bridge during Typhoon Jebi today. So far, death tolls range from six to nine and dozens have been injured in a powerful storm that’s being reported as the strongest the island nation has seen in 25 years.

Here’s to staying safe and prepared.