A message from the Public Safety Department

Public Safety would like to remind all Barry Community members that next week is the State of Florida severe weather awareness week:

Monday, Feb. 11: Lightning Awareness Day

Lightning is one of nature’s deadliest and most unpredictable phenomena, but also one that is virtually a daily occurrence in South Florida during the rainy season. Although meteorologists can detect the location of thunderstorms and forecast their general movement, it is virtually impossible to predict exactly where the next lightning bolt may strike. This fact makes lightning one of nature’s biggest killers. Florida averages of two deaths and nine injuries per year. Nationwide, 28 people were killed by lightning in 2012 which is lower than the 30-year average of 54 per year.

Tuesday Feb. 12: Marine Hazards and Rip Current Awareness Day

Year after year, rip currents consistently rank at the top of the deadliest weather-related hazards in South Florida. Since 1979, rip currents, sometimes erroneously referred to as rip tides or undertows, have claimed more lives in South Florida than any other weather-related hazard combined! 2012 saw a total of three people die as a result of rip currents in South Florida, with an additional 12 people requiring medical attention. Although this is below the long term average of seven deaths per year, they still underscore the often-deadly impact of rip currents in South Florida.

Wednesday Feb. 13: Tornado and Thunderstorm Awareness Day

Tornadoes and severe thunderstorms are more frequent in South Florida than most people realize. Since 1952, South Florida has averaged a total of eight tornadoes per year. In fact, since 1996 nine tornadoes of EF-1 or EF-2 intensity on the Enhanced Fujita Scale (winds greater than 85 mph) have affected south Florida. Tornadoes are also common in the outer rain bands of tropical cyclones, as was the case on June 23 & 24, 2012 when a total of 10 tornadoes were recorded over south Florida in association with the outer rain bands of Tropical Storm Debby.

2012 saw a total of 12 reported tornadoes, including the Tropical Storm Debby-related outbreak in June which was the largest tornado outbreak in south Florida since 1964. Fortunately, these tornadoes were no greater than EF-0 in intensity (winds 85 mph or less) which resulted in limited damage. Most South Florida tornadoes, including the ones in 2012, are relatively small and short-lived. This means that it is very difficult to give plenty of advance warning. In many cases, only a few minutes of warning are given between the time a warning is issued by the National Weather Service and the tornado touchdown. Nevertheless, even a few minutes of warning can make the difference between life and death. Having a NOAA Weather Radio is a critical component of the warning system. Having a weather radio available to alert of an approaching tornado has saved lives.

Thursday Feb. 14: Hurricane and Flooding Awareness Day

Many people will remember 2012 as another year in which South Florida escaped the direct effects of a hurricane. However, a closer look reveals that our region was impacted a total of three times by tropical cyclones during the 2012 hurricane season: Tropical Storm Debby on June 23-24, Tropical Storm Isaac on August 26-27 and Hurricane Sandy on October 26. None of the systems brought hurricane conditions to south Florida, but significant to severe impacts were most definitely felt. IT’S NOT JUST ABOUT THE WIND From Debby’s tornadoes and flooding, to torrential rains and severe flooding brought by Isaac, to the pounding surf and coastal flooding of Sandy, the 2012 hurricane season was a clear reminder that tropical cyclones are more than just about the wind. The combination of the three storms caused millions of dollars in damage to south Florida beaches and beachfront streets as a result of beach erosion and storm surge. In addition, the torrential downpours associated with Tropical Storm Isaac caused severe flooding in Palm Beach and Broward counties, resulting in millions of dollars in damage as well. These storms also served to remind South Floridians of our vulnerability to the different impacts associated with tropical systems and the need to prepare adequately for each one. Despite the lack of direct hurricane strikes in recent years, South Florida remains one of the most hurricane-prone regions in the country. This means that we should be prepared every year for the possibility of a tropical storm or hurricane impacting our region. On average, the center of a hurricane will pass within 50 miles of any point in South Florida.

Friday Feb. 15: Temperature Extremes and Wildfire Awareness Day

Although a mild and sunny climate is south Florida’s greatest natural asset, extremes of heat and cold occur from time to time. These extremes can be harmful and even fatal if people do not take precautions. The heat and humidity of summer can combine to cause temperatures to feel more like 105 degrees on many days, which present a significant health risk even to those used to warm weather. Heat index values rarely reach critical values of 110 degrees in south Florida, but when they do, the risk of life threatening heat stroke increases dramatically. It is not unusual to hear of cases of heat exposure involving school children, especially during the hot summer months when outdoor activities are more common. Heat-exposure-related incidents are notoriously under-reported and it’s likely that many cases of heat exposure occur yearly in South Florida due to the persistent heat and humidity common throughout much of the year. The number-one protection against heat exposure is simply to stay out of the heat, especially during the hottest times of the day. If outside, make sure to drink plenty of water and take frequent breaks in the shade.

Information provided by:  NOAA, NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE, WEATHER FORECAST OFFICE, Miami, Florida 33165. For additional NOAA information please go to the Public Safety web-site, where you will see a NOAA link.

Barry University reminds its students, faculty, staff and visitors that continued caution and vigilance are necessary components of your own personal safety and the safety of all in the Barry community. We encourage all to report crimes and/or suspicious behavior to Public Safety by calling 305-899-3333 or visiting www.barry.edu/publicsafety/silentwitness.htm, a confidential way of providing information via Barry's website.

Keep up-to-date on campus safety by checking out our periodic updates on Bucwis and Barry News. For more information about Barry's Public Safety Department, visit http://bucwis.barry.edu/publicSafety/.

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