Florida's Osceola County warns residents to prepare now for expected active hurricane season

Natalia Jaramillo, Orlando Sentinel on

Published in Weather News

After the devastation from Hurricane Ian in 2022, Osceola County is preparing for a hurricane season unlike any other and warning residents to do the same.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration expects a very active season that brings 23 named storms and 11 hurricanes — five of which could develop into major storms. The agency noted that “record warm” temperatures in the Atlantic Ocean will provide more fuel for storms this season.

“Don’t get caught up in the numbers, it only takes one as we saw with Ian … to have major impact on us,” Emergency Management Director Bill Litton said. “We all need to be prepared and keep our eyes out.”

Litton gave his annual hurricane outlook presentation Monday to county commissioners. The storm season starts June 1 and runs through Nov. 30.

Ian exposed the vulnerabilities to flooding in Osceola countywide after the storm left thousands of homes waterlogged for weeks. Now the county is expanding emergency response plans with help from the state and federal governments and officials are warning residents to start preparing now.

“As we’ve seen, depending on the rainfall amounts and the wind amounts that’s the key,” Litton said. “If it’s a slow-moving storm, we might have more impact from rain, but if it’s a fast-moving storm we still might have impacts.”

This year there are 14 weather stations countywide after three were added in preparation for the season. The increase provides a clearer image of weather conditions for emergency services and residents, Litton said.

The emergency management office also received federal funding this year to create two more emergency response teams that will operate in underserved areas of the county where data shows historically high rainfall averages.

“We’re looking at an additional, hopefully, to total five teams in the next couple of years,” Litton said. “So it’s a force multiplier, not only for our team, but also the communities that they live in as well.”


The National Hurricane Center issued an update this year that aims to help the county’s growing Hispanic population, he said. The agency added public advisories in Spanish — a feature Osceola has been requesting for some time.

Commissioner Viviana Janer praised the agency’s move and said the county will now be safer as every resident will be able to understand the severity of storms — a challenge during Ian.

“I’m just really happy that we’re going to have access to that information since many of our constituents prefer the Spanish language,” Janer said.

The county also sought help in locating flood vulnerabilities and was awarded $500,000 from the state to conduct a flood-risk study.

The study will analyze historic data on land topography, rainfall and flood zone maps to find missing data gaps, according to the agreement between the county, subcontractor and engineering firm CDM Smith. The study will provide estimated impacts of flooding for storms with increasing intensities over 50 years.

The study’s findings will help the county create a plan for future flooding in the event of a 100- and 500-year flood. The county will present findings in two public meetings where residents can help decide the focus areas to implement resiliency plans. The project will take up to 24 months to complete.


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