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Preparations underway for tropical system

Posted on Saturday, May 26, 2018 at 6:00 am

By Charlie Reed
For the News-Gazette
This weekend’s storms could constitute the first tropical or subtropical depression of the 2018 hurricane season.
The storm is moving in from the Gulf of Mexico this Memorial Day weekend, bringing heavy rains and potential flash flooding to Central Florida, the rest of the state, according to forecasters at the National Weather Service.
Meteorologists are keeping an eye on a tropical disturbance, which they say has an 80 percent chance of developing into an organized system over the weekend and into the early part of next week. Central Florida is in a “transition zone” for higher moisture moving in from the tropics with chances of rain dropping in the northern part of the state as the front moves in. 
According to the National Hurricane Center’s tropical weather outlook, “a subtropical or tropical depression is likely to form by late Saturday (today).
Regardless of whether the system becomes an official tropical depression or not, the main concern will be heavy rain over Florida and a swath of the Southeast U.S.
Osceola County officials have been checking flood-prone storm water drains and ditches. Employees from the county’s Road and Bridge Office, for example, are performing typical storm preparation tasks such as inspecting storm water systems to make certain they are clear from obstructions.
Flood-prone areas typically are where people push yard waste and other solid matter into the drainage system. Low-lying areas also have a higher risk of flooding.
“We’re fortunate right now, I think, because we have been in a rain deficit. So there should be plenty of capacity,” said county spokesman Mark Pino, adding that the local burn ban has been lifted because of this weekend’s heavy rains.
“We encourage citizens to be prepared for periods of intermittent heavy rains with occasional lightning and thunder. As a result of the heavy rain potential, low-lying areas should be prepared to take action and leave a threatened area for higher ground, if flooding occurs,” Pino said.
Common flooding risk areas can be found by clicking the webpage by the “Flood Evacuation” button at mysafety.osceola.org.
“These heavy rains may also flood streets from time to time, so we recommend people stay off the roads unless absolutely necessary,” Pino said. Any real wind threat will arise from organized thunderstorms, much like a summer afternoon. As the system traverses the west coast, if a tornado threat increases, we encourage people to follow their plan, stay informed and take action – move to their safe place if a tornado warning is issued. Head protection is important during a tornado threat,” Pino said.
Residents should have two methods of receiving warnings, like a NOAA weather radio and a fully charged cell phone to receive emergency alerts, according to Pino. 
Meanwhile, here are four ways homeowners can protect their property during the storm.
Clear gutters of leaves and twigs that may have accumulated throughout the year to prevent overflowing.
Make sure that any gaps or holes in the sealant surrounding doors and windows are filled in. This will stop rain seeping in. (Regular repairs greatly reduce the impact of sealant erosion.)
Be safe with electrical appliances. If your home has started to flood, don’t go near the fuse box and make sure all sockets are covered and turned off.
Cover air vents, one of the most common ways that water finds its way into a house. Cover vents both from the outside and the inside with thick
plastic sheeting.