Storm Clouds

By  | 

State emergency planners are keeping an eye on Tropical Storm Dennis and saying you should be doing the same.

Dennis is likely to be a factor in the Florida Keys late Friday and could be a major hurricane in the Gulf by the weekend. As Dennis approaches, a conference call between local state and federal officials dealt with the uncertain path of the storm.

Dennis formed close to where Charley originated last year and has similar characteristics. Charley took a sharp turn surprising Charlotte County, so now officials are warning residents to look at the large forecast cone, not the narrow black line.

Greg Fugate of the Florida Emergency Operations Center says, "Back in the early part of Florida’s history, particularly when you look at the 1940s to early 50s, it was not unusual to be hit year after year after year."

State employees have been put on notice that vacations may be cut short.

Gov. Jeb Bush is on vacation in Maine and isn’t due back until Monday, but aides say if Dennis starts heading this way, the governor will too."

This is the earliest date on record to have four named storms, but climatologist Dr. Jim O’Brien isn’t reading ruin into that little bit of history.

Dr. Jim O’Brien says, "I don’t think it's harbinger of a super-duper season and lots of damage like last year. Last year was an unusual case and I don’t expect it to be repeated."

And like last year when hurricanes came on weekends, if Dennis hits Florida, it will also likely be here on the weekend. Regardless of which way the storm veers, tropical storm force winds are expected in the Keys by Friday.