All tropical weather system are not hurricanes. And it doesn’t take a hurricane to cause damage, mostly by tides, flooding and wind. Tropical depressions are the first things that are noted on the National Hurricane Center website. They can turn into tropical storms and grow into hurricanes, but most don’t. The worst months for tropical weather systems on Florida’s Big Bend are August and September, when the Gulf water temperatures reach the upper 80s.
An important thing to remember about planning for bad weather is not to “jump the gun” . Tropical systems are fickle and funny. They can change direction in a matter of hours, and you should not be scared away from planning a vacation or fishing trip based on what’s outside the 5-day projection of the storm. For example, the graphic above shows the 5-day projection of Tropical Storm Isaac on August 22, 2012. Based on what it shows, and with the best projections that it will become a hurricane, I wouldn’t plan a trip to the Florida Keys or the Naples/Marco Island area after Monday. I’d bet that they will get bad weather of some sort then. However, if I was planning a trip to Cedar Key, Suwannee, Steinhatchee or St. Marks/Panacea, I’d not cancel my reservations yet. By Monday, the storm might die over the Keys or turn eastward over Miami and head to the northeast and the Bahamas later in the week.
It important to be prepared for a hurricane or bad weather, but I advise you not to panic. With 4 or 5 days notice and a careful watch of the Hurricane Center site, you’ll have plenty of time to prepare.