New to Florida? A Timely Guide for First-Time Floridians for the 2023 Hurricane Season From Plywood to Spaghetti Models

Kathy LaFollett
The Florida Lifestyle is a cut above, but Hurricane Season is an emotional roller coaster at times.Photo byAdobe Express Pro

Welcome to Florida. Fasten your seat belts and keep your hands and feet inside the ride until it comes to a complete stop.

Hurricane Season is here. It’s early. The rains, flooding, winds, and off kilter weather confirm nature is ready to go. The gulf waters and African sands haven’t caught up with her, though. If you’re new to our seasons, they go like this: pollen, sauna, hurricanes, humid. Not necessarily in that order. We also have the interspersed No Name Storm Days and Frost Warnings of Doom Days. Random but welcome as they break up the monotony of pollen, sauna, hurricanes, humid.

Florida added roughly 325,000 new residents in 2022. And 2023 is looking banner according to U Haul.

It’s estimated Florida will have 412,000 amateurs in line trying to pump gas and buy bottled water five hours before they predict the eye of the storm to hit the coast. Of those, 17% will be new homeowners lining up at big box hardware stores trying to buy plywood panels at $100 a pop. Some will buy painter’s tape as well to create Pollock style tape geometries on their windows. The urban legend lives on. Hurricane Ian put a new spin on living in Florida. And 38% of fresh transplants took a fresh regret giving the state a go as a lifestyle.

Here are your complimentary locals' tips and tried-and-true to-dos for your 2023 Florida Hurricane Season.

  • The cone of uncertainty is actually the Cone of Doubts and Guesses. Any data outside the 7-day cone is an educated guess. Data outside the 5-day cone should be taken with a grain of salt. Data inside the 3-day cone is actionable. Data within the 24-hour National Hurricane Center’s announcement is 75% trustworthy. Hurricanes are untrustworthy weather systems spawning tornadoes, lightning, and unmitigated weather chaos anywhere you least expect it. Ask your new neighbor about the squall lines spawning off any serious storm.
  • Spaghetti models are for professionals and soothsayers. National news is for advertising revenue. And doom scrolling will give you high anxiety and a lousy perspective. Local news, local to you news, is where you go. Get the latest, then set the phone down or turn off the TV. Set up alerts on your phone. You’ll get plenty of alarms to enjoy, and won’t miss a thing, while avoiding that hair-on-fire anxiety ride. There could be up to a week of time between the day a hurricane is named and the day they think they know where it’s landing. Hurricanes are a grind, mentally.
  • Your family and friends up north will watch their local news to see what’s happening to you in Florida. Their local news will ratchet up the storm story for revenue. This will become a storm task for you during hurricane season. Get ahead of your family’s local newscasts with a simple text. “We’re good. We’re not worried. We’re taking care. Turn off the Weather Channel, get online and watch (insert your new Florida address here) channel for what’s really going on. We. Are. Good. I’ll text if things change.”
  • Mikes’ Weather Page, and Mike himself, are the pride of Florida for Spaghetti models, down to earth every hour when it’s time for every hour updates, no drama solid information and commentary. He lives in the Tampa area.
  • When shopping essentials, remember, we are now under the pressures of inappropriate population density. Buy what you need to leave enough for others. We all learned some serious lessons during the Great Toilet Paper Wars of 2020.

The State has issued their 2023 Preparedness Tips for low-cost and No-cost preparedness.

  • Make a Plan that includes your Pets–Every household should have a disaster plan that is specific to the needs of everyone in their household, including children, pets, and seniors. Every member of the household should assist in developing the emergency plan, understanding the plan, and practicing the plan.
  • Know Your Zone, Know Your Home–It’s important for residents to know if their home is in an evacuation zone, a low-lying, flood-prone area, a mobile home or an unsafe structure during hurricane season. Residents should also take the time to know their home and its ability to withstand strong winds and heavy rain. This information will help residents better understand orders from local officials during a storm. Visit for more information and to find your zone.
  • Have Multiple Ways to Receive Weather Alerts–Residents should have multiple ways to receive weather alerts and follow all orders from local officials. Every household is encouraged to have a battery-operated or hand-crank weather radio to ensure they can continue to receive alerts from the National Weather Service in the event of power outages or damaged cell towers.
  • Halfway Full is Halfway There–Residents and visitors are encouraged to keep their vehicle’s gas tanks at least half full during hurricane season to ensure they have enough fuel to evacuate tens of miles as soon as possible without worrying about long lines at gas stations and to avoid gas shortages prior to a storm. For Floridians with electric vehicles, it’s recommended that the battery be maintained between 50% - 80% capacity at all times, depending on the type of vehicle and what the vehicle’s manual recommends.

Hurricane parties were cute when Hurricanes barely made it to CAT2. We’re in the Age of CAT5.5 now. Once upon a time, there was a cute storm named Charlie. Then there was Irma. Irma covered the entire state, while Charlie did not. Irma changed all the rules. There was nowhere to go. Speaking of nowhere to go, there’s only one direction out of Florida, north. If you feel compelled to evacuate, you will want to get that decision completed between the 5- and 3-day cone of uncertainty time. Our population density in relation to gas and charging stations existing to service overpopulated bulging masses of cars heading north is awkward.

A no evacuation plan is as important as an evacuation plan. Hide from wind, run from water. A Florida hurricane mantra.

Finally, a tip from one Floridian to our new Florida pledges:

When there’s a Presidential Disaster Declaration register for Federal disaster assistance by calling 800-621-3362 (800-462-7585 TTY), or online at Disaster assistance may be available for things like Additional Living Expenses that are not covered by your policy.

Get your FEMA flood insurance, no matter where you live. It’s going to be a statewide mandate, anyway. Get your homeowner’s renter’s insurance locked down clearly. And for the love of seashells and sunblock, don’t buy into a cheap policy without checking where the financial backing sits. Buy coverage from the likes of State Farm. Get solid, known, performance proven insurances. No homeowner wants Citizen’s. They end up with it.

And whatever happens, if you find yourself part of the storm aftermath, call your insurer as soon as possible. And send every panel truck driving, trailer pulling contractor promising a new roof fast, packing.
After a big storm Fraud shows up before Help. If it smiles wide, and sounds too good to be true, you've just met a pirate.Photo byAdobe Express Pro

Liars, thieves, grifters are the pirates coming to shore during tropical storms.

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Florida author, speaker, and wildlife/companion animal advocate writing about life in the Sunshine State from my cityscape, St. Petersburg.

St. Petersburg, FL

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