The Cape Coral Fire Department has scheduled its annual hurricane seminar for June 4 at City Hall in the City Council chambers.
Fire Chief Don Cochran encourages the public to attend the 90-minute seminar that starts at 6:30 p.m. Admission is free and you don't have to register in advance to attend. Each year the only seminar in Cape Coral is well attended.
"The message to the public is it's important to have a plan," said Cochran. "It is valuable for everyone, whether you have been to one before or not. You always get updated information."
Officials conducting this seminar include Lee County Emergency Management Director Jim Bjostad, Coast Guard Auxiliary liaison Tom Bamford, Cape Coral Police Capt. Mike Torregrossa, city building official Paul Dickson, Emergency Management coordinator Jesse Spearo, and WINK chief meteorologist Jim Farrell.
"Whether you are new to the area or need a refresher course please attend this seminar," said City Councilmember Rana Erbrick. "It will be well worth your time and effort to be there."
Officials caution residents and visitors not to let their guard down during this hurricane season that begins on June 1 and runs through Nov. 30 just because weather experts have predicted a below-average storm season.
Colorado State University weather expert Dr. William Gray predicted in April that the Atlantic hurricane season will have nine named storms with three reaching hurricane status, but only one storm of major (Category 3 or higher) strength.
The Weather Channel has predicted 11 named storms with five hurricanes, and two major.
"A mild season prediction by the National Hurricane Center is the kind of outlook we like to see," said Lee County Emergency Management public safety director Rob Farmer. "We will watch the weather forecasts, watch all depressions and waves closely for the next few months. Every storm is different. It doesn't take a strong hurricane to present a destructive storm surge, that's why we are putting more emphasis out to our visitors and citizens to understand that."
Information to be provided at the city's seminar include storm tracking, preparedness kits, storm ratings on the Saffir-Simpson Scale, watches and warnings, storm surge and evacuation procedures, area shelter locations and much more.
Cape Coral has four designated shelters: Diplomat Elementary School, 1115 N.E. 16th Terrace; Diplomat Middle School, 1039 N.E. 16th Terrace; Island Coast High School, 2125 Del Navarra Parkway; and Mariner Middle School, 425 Chiquita Boulevard.
Service animals are allowed in all shelters, but pets are only allowed at the pet friendly shelter at South Fort Myers High School.
Seminars are held in June and July throughout Lee, Collier, Hendry and Charlotte counties. Watch media outlets for dates and times of these seminars held at area libraries, schools and other meeting facilities.
Lee County now offers citizens with iPhones and Android devices to download the new LeeEvac app which can be used to find out what evacuation zone you live in and provide links to other important information sources.
For the inquisitive among us, the names for 2014 Atlantic storms are - Arthur; Bertha; Cristobal; Dolly; Edouard; Fay; Gonsalo; Hanna; Isaias; Josephine; Kyle; Laura; Marco; Nana; Omar; Paulette; Rene; Sally; Teddy; Vicky; and Wilfred.