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Posted January 19, 2017 | 2:20 PM

Severe Weather Awareness Week Focuses on Potential Hazards

Everything you need to know to #staysafe

Florida is known for palm trees, oranges, and sandy beaches. Occasionally it also has severe weather, and Hillsborough County is no exception.

Sometimes you can see the bad stuff coming. Too often you have only minutes, or less, to react.

Severe Weather Awareness Week (Jan. 23-27) focuses on the state's potential hazards - hurricanes, lightning, tornadoes, wildfires, rip currents - and helps people learn how to cope with them safely. Planning ahead is a big part of the emphasis, and Hillsborough County emergency managers urge residents to prepare for the worst. One way to do so is to set up a procedure before trouble looms. Families, businesses, and people with special needs can use this step-by-step online guide to get ready for conditions that can deteriorate rapidly, threatening lives and property.

Each day of Severe Weather Awareness Week is devoted to a natural hazard. Here's the harrowing lineup:

  • Monday, Jan. 23: Lightning
  • Tuesday, Jan. 24: Marine Hazards and Rip Currents
  • Wednesday, Jan. 25: Tornadoes and Thunderstorms
  • Thursday, Jan. 26: Hurricanes and Flooding
  • Friday, Jan. 27: Temperature Extremes and Wildfires

See more information about these tips.

While hurricanes pose a widespread threat to all areas along the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean coasts, other types of severe weather can be just as devastating. Tornadoes and wildfires are common throughout the Southeastern United States, and flooding is possible.

Tips such as the "30-30 Rule" for assessing the threat of lightning, and catchphrases such as "Don't Fight! Swim Left or Right!" for handling rip currents can be the difference between safely coping with bad conditions and finding yourself in a potentially deadly situation.

Living in an area known for warm, beautiful weather can be deceptive. Natural disasters are inevitable and can strike anywhere, including Florida. That's the idea behind Severe Weather Awareness Week. For more information, including a Severe Weather Awareness Guide, go to the Florida Division of Emergency Management. Hillsborough County's official notification system for emergency messages and urgent information is HCFL Alert.

Sign up online to receive messages by email, phone, and text at hcflgov.net/hcflalert or call (813) 272-6602.