According to the Tampa Bay Times, 2017 could bring a new hazard to Florida: wildfires.
The Florida Forest Service notes an unusually dry winter season that could set us up for a drought. These conditions cover nearly our entire service area, stretching into Pinellas County, Pasco County, Hillsborough County and Hernando County.
“We had a good summer with lots of rain,” said David Zierden, a Florida State University professor who serves as the state’s official climatologist. But the last major rainfall to hit Florida arrived with Hurricane Matthew in early October, he said. And while a few rainy days in December brought a brief respite, experts said Floridians shouldn’t get used to that.
Florida has faced wildfires before: in 2007, and in 1998. New residents of the state are often caught off guard as our state is usually associated with torrential rains, not fires.
Nevertheless, it’s important to make sure you’re prepared. If you’ve been collecting rain water your barrel might be dry, but it might be a good time to fill it with the hose now, to serve as the outdoor water source recommended by the Red Cross.
Though we’re all cash strapped from the holiday season it’s best to go ahead and make sure you have all the emergency items on the Red Cross list now.
Keep in mind that if your gutters start to look like they are in ill repair during this season you won’t want to neglect them, even if you don’t expect rain. First, dry seasons tend to end spectacularly and without warning. Second, damage to your gutters could extend to your roof.
Beyond that, stay safe, and let’s hope for the best for all our friends and neighbors here in the Tampa Metro Area.