Tampa Bay has been lucky.
Although 114 hurricanes have hit Florida since 1851, Tampa Bay hasn't had a direct hit in 90 years.
So why do emergency planners worry so much?
Because we haven't been hit in 90 years.
We don't know how bad it could be, how high the water could go, how many buildings would be destroyed, how many lives would be lost.
About 135,000 people lived in the region when the last hurricane hit in 1921, as a Tampa Bay Times staff writer explains elsewhere in this section.
Today, Tampa Bay is home to about 2.7 million people sprawling across several counties, many of them living along coastal roads that jam quickly on a normal day. We depend on a handful of major bridges that would be vulnerable in a major hurricane.
Florida is one of the most hurricane-prone states in the country, with 40 percent of all U.S. hurricanes hitting here. And while good fortune has shined for decades on Tampa Bay, it is one of the most vulnerable areas in the country.
In this guide you will find information intended to help you prepare for the worst, even as you hope for the best.
Emergency planners hope you will follow their advice: Be prepared, stay alert and evacuate if you must.
But they know many of you will not.
No wonder they worry so much.
The largest news organization in Florida and our media partners will be ready to provide the most current information about a storm.
The Tampa Bay Times and its website, tampabay.com, along with our partners at Bay News 9 and radio station WFLA-970 AM plan to mobilize all our resources.
We will give you the latest information in print, online or on your smart phone.
And we want to hear from you. Here are the many ways that you can interact with tampabay.com in a weather crisis:
By phone: (727) 893-8111.
By e-mail: email@example.com.
Video: E-mail the file to firstname.lastname@example.org or upload to youtube.com/wwwtampabaycom.
Photos: Publish your pictures in the Times or tampabay.com by:
• E-mailing them to email@example.com.
• Posting them on our Facebook page.
• Sharing them on Twitter by mentioning @tampabaycom.
Are you a registered tampabay.com user?
Join our community by registering at tampabay.com/register.
Mobile text alerts
Editors on our Now! Desk will send bulletins for the most important developments. It's a free service. Subscribe at tampabay.com/mobile.
In almost real time, Times editors and reporters will "tweet" or publish a frequent stream of news and links such as evacuation information, National Hurricane Center updates and local conditions in text-message length (approximately 120 characters).
We'll also publish your "tweets." You can mention @tampabaycom or use terms that we provide (examples: #flooding, #closures) to better organize the flow of information.
Need a Twitter account? Sign up at tampabay.com/twitter.
Already have an account? Follow us @tampabaycom.
Remember: Even in the worst conditions, as long as your cell phone has power, you probably will be able to receive and send text messages.
In a major weather event, tampabay.com will send newsletters at regularly scheduled intervals, or as news demands. It's free.
Subscribe at enews.tampabay.com.
Let's hope none of this is necessary. But we're ready to serve. Join us at tampabay.com.