Forecasters are predicting an "average" hurricane season this year but we offer one salient reminder: It only takes one storm - and not a particularly bad one - to wreak havoc and impact our lives.
Predicted are as many as 12 named storms. Forecasters are predicting five of these will become hurricanes with two becoming a "major" storm - a hurricane with winds in excess of 111 mph. According to the forecast, there is a 50 percent chance at least one will make landfall along the U.S. coastline and a 30 percent chance that coastline will be somewhere in Florida.
The nation's average "season" sees 12 named storms and six hurricanes, three of them Category 3 or greater.
With hurricane season now underway, officials on the national, state and local level urge residents to be prepared, not complacent.
As always, public awareness and preparedness are the best defenses against a hurricane, they say.
What does "preparedness" mean?
It means it's time again to gather documents, compile supplies and put together evacuation plans.
It's time to stockpile certain goods, including water and non-perishable food and snacks to last three to seven days; a non-electric can opener, paper plates and utensils that won't need to be washed; flashlights and other portable, self-powered light sources; batteries; medications; and ice chests.
Officials also suggest we ready portable and NOAA weather-band radios and waterproof tarps, and that we make sure we have containers of fuel for propane grills or portable generators.
Storm shutters or plywood for windows remain a good idea for battening down the hatches if and when a watch is issued.
If ordered to evacuate, we should all have important papers, Social Security cards, immunization records, cash and prescription medications at the ready along with special supplies for children, and carriers and food for any pets.
For more information on getting prepared, we invite you to visit fortmyersbeachtalk.com where we have posted our annual Hurricane Guide.
Just click the "Hurricane Guide" button in the right-hand column on the home page where all of the information provided by Lee County Emergency Management and other sources will be available all season.
As the season progresses, we will keep you updated, on-line and in print. We invite you to sign up for Facebook notifications, which will provide you with updates as they are received by The Observer newsroom. The icon to sign up also can be found on the top right hand of our homepage - just click on the Facebook button and then select "like" to stay informed.
And may this "average" season live up to that forecast and pass without incident.
- Observer editorial