Forecasters are predicting a "below average" hurricane season this year but local officials offer one salient reminder: It only takes one storm - and not a particularly bad one - to wreak havoc and impact our lives.
As many as nine named storms are predicted for hurricane season this year, as officials anticipate a "mild" season.
Forecasters are predicting just three of these named storms will become hurricanes with only one becoming a "major" storm - a hurricane with winds in excess of 111 mph.
Nevertheless, with hurricane season beginning June 1 and so under way, officials on the national, state and local level urge residents to be prepared, not complacent.
As always, public awareness and preparedness are the best defenses against a hurricane, they say.
What does "preparedness" mean?
It means it's time again to gather documents, compile supplies, and put together evacuation plans.
It's time to stockpile certain goods, including water and non-perishable food and snacks to last three to seven days; a non-electric can opener, paper plates and utensils that won't need to be washed; flashlights and other portable, self-powered light sources; batteries, medications and ice chests.
Officials also suggest we ready portable and NOAA weather-band radios and waterproof tarps, and that we make sure we have containers of fuel for propane grills or portable generators.
Storm shutters or plywood for windows remain a good idea for battening down the hatches if and when a watch is issued.
If ordered to evacuate, we should all have important papers, Social Security cards, immunization records, cash and prescription medications at the ready along with special supplies for children, and carriers and food for any pets.
For more information on getting prepared, we invite you to visit fortmyersbeachtalk.com where we have posted our annual Hurricane Guide.
The "button" is in the right hand column and will be available all season.
We also will keep you updated, on-line and in print, as the season progresses. We invite you to sign up for Facebook notifications, which will provide you with updates as they are received by our newsroom. The icon to sign up can be found on the top right hand of our homepage - just click on the page and then select "like" to stay informed.
And may this "mild" season live up to that forecast and pass without incident.
- Observer editorial