In the spring of 2005, as several of us met in the newsroom to discuss the upcoming hurricane season, we took some assurance from what Floridians endured the previous year.
Hurricanes Charley, which took a quick right and narrowly missed Tampa Bay; Ivan, which slammed into Pensacola; and Frances and Jean, both of which entered Florida from the East Coast but still caused plenty of trouble as they meandered through the Tampa Bay region.
Fortunately, we would not have to deal with another year like that, right?
Wrong. In fact, very wrong. The 2005 season produced no less than 28 storms, four of which hit Florida. We had so many storms that one them actually formed in January 2006, several weeks past the traditional close of the season, Nov. 30.
It was amazing.
And perhaps just as amazing: nothing since.
Not in seven years, with dozens of hurricanes forming in the Atlantic Ocean, the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico, has one storm directly hit Florida.
For all the meteorological expertise on sea surface temperatures, African dust, steering currents, El Niño patterns and Bermuda highs, much about hurricanes remains unpredictable.
This spring, as we prepare for another hurricane season, forecasters are predicting another active season.
Will we get lucky again this year?
I was taken by the cautionary words of Dennis Feltgen of the National Hurricane Center in Miami, found inside this section.
"We should prepare like this is the year we are going to get hit.''
For most of us, good and bad hurricane seasons are measured by one standard: Did we get hit?
We hope you find this section useful in helping you prepare for this season.
Remember, it only takes one.
And if a storm threatens, the Tampa Bay Times and tampabay.com will keep you apprised.