They know Which Way the Wind Blows:

By Hays Blinckmann

The National Weather Service Forecast Office in Key West is a vital and critical part of life in the keys. Each year, Keys residents are faced with the daunting possibility of a hurricane, or even damaging tropical storms. The result could be a variety of consequence s from extensive wind damage, coastal flooding, to power outages- all in all, a disruption of daily life.

The Weather Center meteorologists already monitor weather information 24 hours a day and seven days a week, for all of the Florida Keys, adjacent waters and ocean areas. And come hurricane season, forecasters will closely watch any Atlantic based storm system in order to prepare the Keys for any eventuality.

“It starts with the five-day cone,” says Jon Rizzo, warning coordination meteorologist,, “logistically it takes a long time to prepare the Keys from anywhere to simply securing your home or boat to full scale evacuation. So we are in touch with county and city emergency mangers immediately. It is our job to get out as much factual weather information as fast as we learn it, to who needs to know it.”

In the event of a hurricane, Rizzo will be at Emergency Operations Center at the Marathon Government Center. Around the 48 hour mark before a storm, he will be advising and discussing all weather probabilities with city and county leaders, fire, EMS, and law enforcement officers and the Tourist Development Council.