The coneheads are back: the National Hurricane Center is expected to name Alex, the first tropical storm of the three-day-old 2022 hurricane season, later this afternoon as it crosses from the Yucatan Peninsula to the southern third of the Florida Peninsula at a fast clip over the next dozen hours, stretching its cone of probability past Florida and into the Atlantic.
But while Flagler County’s Emergency Operations Center staff is keeping an eye on the storm, Emergency Management Chief Jonathan Lord says Flagler will see some wind and up to a quarter to half an inch of rain Saturday, but little else.
“I don’t foresee direct tropical system impacts hitting Flagler County,” Lord said this afternoon, about an hour before the 5 p.m. report from the Hurricane Center. “Mother Nature can always do crazier things, but I don’t foresee that as a possibility. We’re on the very edge, just outside the edge of where those impacts will be. However, I do very much expect that, particularly tomorrow, we’re going to have a breezy day, not a tropical storm. There will be rain, especially in the afternoon, and cooler temperatures.”
The storm will be south of Fort Myers early Saturday morning, but 12 hours later it will have already crossed over the Atlantic. At last report it was moving at only 5 mph, but was expected to accelerate as it moves east-northeast with 40 mph winds. “The system is expected to develop a well-defined center and become a tropical storm later today, and some slight strengthening is possible while it approaches Florida today and tonight,” a 2 p.m. Friday advisory from the National Hurricane Center states.
Heavy rain will affect portions of Central Florida, South Florida, and the Florida Keys today and continue through Saturday, the Hurricane Center says. Considerable flash and urban flooding is possible across South Florida and in the Keys. “The weather service has issued tropical storm warnings from Longboat Key or Sarasota area all the way up to the Brevard-Volusia line. So it’s a big chunk of the state’s populace, more densely populated areas in there. The Volusia-Brevard line is not very far from us,” Lord said.
“I think the bigger win for us is, this is hitting the news, everyone is talking about it. It’s a good chance for our residents to be aware of, hey, we really are in hurricane season,” Lord said. “While this one may not be coming here directly, we’re in the season, it might be early, but early doesn’t mean it’s not possible to have a hurricane or tropical storm. On top of that, it’s a great weekend to get your disaster supplies, because we’re still in the middle of that sales tax holiday for those disaster supplies.”
Lord himself has been making the rounds of local media, governments and civic group to preview the hurricane season and outline his preparedness briefings, as he did at length this morning on WNZF and on Wednesday in these pages. (See: “Be Prepared to Be Off the Grid”: Flagler Emergency Management Chief Decodes Hurricane Season.”)
Lord was surprised that by Friday afternoon the storm was still not named. “I think it just must still be missing some characteristics like full circular flow or something. Something is holding them back scientifically, some characteristic that they just can’t yet pull the trigger,” he said. But he was convinced that Alex would become Alex later Friday.
The tax-free allowance for hurricane supplies is in effect through June 10. See the list of eligible items here. See the hurricane preparedness kit below.