• new-leaderboard-searchamelia2016

Holiday Mailbox Decorating

Landscape Matters is holding a class on “Holiday Mailbox Decorating, Wednesday, November 30, at 10 a.m. at the Yulee Extension Office located at 86026 Pages Dairy Road.

UF/IFAS Nassau Master Gardener Carol Ann Atwood and avid holiday decorator Sylvie Baxter will conduct a Landscape Matters class on how to make your mailbox “holiday ready” using cuttings from your own yard like magnolia, spruce, pine, palmetto, pittosporum, palms, holly with berries, etc. and ornamental decor. They will decorate two mailboxes and participants will have an opportunity to win one for their own mailbox! The session takes place at the Yulee Extension office on Pages Dairy Road, beginning at 10 am.

For more information, see the Extension website at http://nassau.ifas.ufl.edu/horticulture/landmatters/landmatters.html, or contact the Extension office at 530-6350. Master Gardeners are ​on phone duty Fridays, from 10 am until 2 pm at 530-6350, press “1” for the Yulee Extension office

The Benefits of Daily Cleaning Between Teeth

You may have seen or heard news stories suggesting that you can forget about flossing, since scientists lack solid evidence that you’ll benefit from cleaning between your teeth with a sturdy string. But many dentists may beg to differ. They’ve seen the teeth and gums of people who floss regularly and those who haven’t. The differences can be striking.

“Every dentist in the country can look in someone’s mouth and tell whether or not they floss,” says Dr. Tim Iafolla, a dental health expert at NIH. Red or swollen gums that bleed easily can be a clear sign that flossing and better dental habits are needed. “Cleaning all sides of your teeth, including between your teeth where the toothbrush can’t reach, is a good thing,” Iafolla says.

If dentists, and maybe even your personal experience, suggest that regular flossing keeps your mouth healthy, then why the news reports? It’s because long-term, large-scale, carefully controlled studies of flossing have been somewhat limited.

Researchers have found modest benefits from flossing in small clinical studies. For instance, an analysis of 12 well-controlled studies found that flossing plus toothbrushing reduced mild gum disease, or gingivitis, significantly better than toothbrushing alone. These same studies reported that flossing plus brushing might reduce plaque after 1 or 3 months better than just brushing.

But there’s no solid evidence that flossing can prevent periodontitis, a severe form of gum disease that’s the leading cause of tooth loss in adults. Periodontitis can arise if mild gum disease is left untreated. Plaque may then spread below the gum line, leading to breakdown of bone and other tissues that support your teeth. Periodontitis develops slowly over months or years. Most flossing studies to date, however, have examined only relatively short time periods.

Another research challenge is that large, real-world studies of flossing must rely on people accurately reporting their dental cleaning habits. And people tend to report what they think is the “right” answer when it comes to their health behaviors, whether flossing, exercising, smoking, or eating. That’s why well-controlled studies (where researchers closely monitor flossing or perform the flossing) tend to show that flossing is effective. But real-world studies result in weaker evidence.

“The fact that there hasn’t been a huge population-based study of flossing doesn’t mean that flossing’s not effective,” Iafolla says. “It simply suggests that large studies are difficult and expensive to conduct when you’re monitoring health behaviors of any kind.”

While the scientific evidence for flossing benefits may be somewhat lacking, there’’s little evidence for any harm or side effects from flossing, and it’s low cost. So why not consider making it part of your daily routine?

Talk to your dentist if you have any questions or concerns about your teeth or gums. If flossing is difficult, the dentist may recommend other ways to remove plaque between teeth, such as with a water flosser or interdental cleaners. “If you need help learning how to floss, or if you don’t think you’re doing it right, your dentist or hygienist will be happy to show you how,” Iafolla says. “It helps to know the proper technique.”

Article by NIH Office of Communications and Public Liaison
Editor: Harrison Wein, Ph.D.
Managing Editor: Vicki Contie
Contributors: Erin Calhoun, Vicki Contie, Alan Defibaugh (illustrations), Bonnie Tabasko, and Carol Torgan.

Deep Frying a Turkey – Video Revisited

Deep Frying a Turkey - Video RevisitedThis was such a popular video when posted several years ago, and because I have had so many friends ask me, “How do you deep fry a turkey?” I thought this would be a great time to re-publish the original article.

Supplies:

    -Gas heat source.
    -An oversized pot large enough to hold a 10 to 16 pound turkey.
    -Turkey frying tools (see video)
    -3 to 4 Gallons of peanut oil
    -Meat thermometer Continue reading

Make Smart Choices as You Celebrate the Season

Mashed potatoes and gravy, Grandma’s apple pie, and other holiday favorites can be a joyous part of any celebration. But to feel your best, you know you need to eat in moderation and stay active. How can you avoid temptation when delicious foods and calories abound?

“From Halloween through New Year’s, there’s always a decision to make about food,” says Dr. Marci Gluck, an NIH psychologist who studies obesity and eating behaviors. Tasty treats tend to appear more often at work and festive gatherings, and to come as gifts. They may also tempt you when grocery shopping. “As the holidays approach, it’s important to think ahead and make a plan,” Gluck says.

Consider your health goals for the holiday season, whether it’s avoiding overeating, staying active, connecting with others, reducing stress, or preventing weight gain. You can plan to make time for buying healthy groceries, cooking at home, scheduling regular physical activity, and setting aside a little quiet time for yourself.

Gluck suggests you start by adopting a flexible mindset. “Many people have an attitude of all or nothing: either I’m on a diet or I’m not on a diet,” she says. This “either-or” thinking can lead to negative self-talk, or being hard on yourself for small indulgences, overeating, or weight gain.

“Most people just throw their plan out the window when they think they’ve slipped up, and they ‘fall off the wagon,'” Gluck says. “Celebrations don’t have to derail your lifestyle. You’ll have plenty of opportunities to follow your plan and eat healthy.”

Look for opportunities to make healthy choices and feel good about them. “Small choices really can make big changes,” Gluck says. “Each moment that you put something in your mouth or choose to exercise adds up over time. That can be true for weight loss or weight gain.”

Around the holidays, we often find ourselves with too many food options, for too many days in a row. It can be challenging to decide what to eat and when to say no.

“Eat what you love—in moderation,” suggests Jody Engel, a nutritionist and registered dietitian at NIH. Consider choosing items that are unique to the season, instead of eating foods you can have any time of the year.

When you feel the urge to splurge in unhealthy ways, Engel recommends trying something else first, like drinking a glass of water, eating a piece of fruit, or climbing a few flights of stairs. You might even consider walking around your house or office for 5 minutes or more. Such diversions might be enough to help you resist unhealthy temptations.

You could also try eating mindfully, Engel suggests. Slow down to really taste and enjoy your food. Eating more slowly also allows your body time to signal your brain when you’re full, which takes about 20 minutes. If you eat too much too quickly, it’s easy to gobble up as much as twice what your body needs before your brain even gets the message.

Dr. Susanne Votruba, an NIH obesity and nutrition researcher, says it’s a good idea to identify and avoid any “trigger foods”—foods that may spur you to binge or eat more than usual. Overeating can bring feelings of bloating, reflux, indigestion, and nausea.

“Some people can eat less healthy foods in moderation and be fine, or have ‘cheat days’ where they allow themselves to eat whatever they want for a day and stay on track for the rest of the week,” Votruba says. “Others may have to avoid certain ‘trigger foods’ completely, or they’ll spiral into unhealthy eating patterns for the rest of the week or abandon their plan altogether. Everyone is different.”

Because of these differences, Votruba says, it’s important not to force food on other people. “Even if you don’t have an issue with food, be aware of other people around you, and respect their choices,” she says.

What if you do fall to temptation? “Every day is a new day when it comes to eating,” Votruba says. “If you overeat one day, work to get back on track the next meal or next day.”

While food is a big part of the holidays, remember that there are other paths to staying healthy. “Don’t make the holidays be just about food,” Votruba suggests. “The key is not only what you eat, but how much you’re moving. Even little bits of extra exercise can be very helpful for everyone over the holidays.”

Plan ahead for how you’ll add physical activity to days that might otherwise involve a lot of sitting. Get the whole family involved, Engel suggests. “You have to make an effort to incorporate exercise into days of big eating,” she says. “Otherwise the day will come and go.”

Sign up to walk or run a community race. Enjoy catching up with family or friends on a walk or jog instead of on the couch. In between meals, take a family hike at a nearby park, stroll around your neighborhood, or play a game of flag football.

The emotions of winter celebrations come into this picture, too. “Joy, sadness, and stress are associated with overeating during the holidays,” Gluck says. “People who are emotional eaters may be particularly vulnerable to temptations around the holidays.”

If holiday stress causes you to derail your healthy plans, consider ways to reduce stress and manage emotions. These might include talking to a trusted friend, meditation, physical activity, or just getting outside.

“If you know you have a difficult time during holidays, plan outings once or twice a week with people who make you feel happy,” says Gluck. “If it’s in your best interest, also feel okay about declining invitations without feeling guilty.”

Support your family and friends, too. Encourage them to eat healthy during celebrations and throughout the year. If you’re serving dinner, consider baking, broiling, or grilling food instead of frying. Replace sour cream with Greek yogurt, and mashed potatoes with mashed cauliflower. Make take-home containers available ahead of time, so guests don’t feel they have to eat everything in one sitting.

Article by NIH Office of Communications and Public Liaison
Editor: Harrison Wein, Ph.D.
Managing Editor: Vicki Contie
Contributors: Erin Calhoun, Vicki Contie, Alan Defibaugh (illustrations), Bonnie Tabasko, and Carol Torgan

Vote for Eric Childers

Vote for Eric Childers

I have a very good reason to cast my vote for Eric Childers, and this may come as a complete surprise to many of you, but he is the best big brother a girl could have!!!

eric-and-judieThat’s right, Eric and I are brother and sister, so if you see me waving election signs that say Vote for Eric Childers, now you know just one of the many reasons I am voting for him.

As a big brother, Eric has been my confidante, my protector, and my most trusted friend for ALL of my life. Like most siblings, boy, do I have some great stories from our childhood, too. Oh, and just for the record… he IS older than me.

Eric is accessible, and he studies the issues – taking pride in hearing from YOU on the subjects that are most important to those he wants to represent. He is embedded in our community, a married man, and works a full time job, so his decision to run for public office and “serve” his neighbors was not made lightly. He understands the day to day concerns of working families. He sees the importance of welcoming our tourists, and he listens when you express concerns about growth, infrastructure, and the delicate balance of man v nature.

Having served in the Navy, and having grown up a Military Brat, Eric understands commitment, sacrifice, and pride of country… but most of all, he truly cares about the future of Fernandina Beach, her residents, her business owners, and her visitors.

If you want to see a fun, and very short video endorsement I made when I was in Las Vegas earlier this year… scroll down on my facebook page to October 25th and take a look. If you want to hear a really, really funny story from our childhood… come find me, I’ve got some great ones!

We thank you for your support.

This shameless plug is of my own personal opinion. He did not hold my arm behind my back, give me “noogies”, or make me say, “Uncle” to write this endorsement. We still retain our right to express, so I don’t reckon I need any disclosures typed up in this space.

TEDxFSCJ Announces Speakers for Art (Re)Defines Us

Jacksonville, FL – TEDxFSCJ is partnering with OneVoice and the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) Jacksonville to host a salon that addresses how the many modes of art—painting, poetry, spoken word and historic neighborhoods—contribute to the flourishing of communities. The TEDxFSCJ Salon, “Art (Re)Defines Us,” will take place Wednesday, September 14, 2016, from 6-8 p.m. at MOCA Jacksonville.

The theme for this TEDxFSCJ event is to strengthen ongoing conversation about arts, community and public ideals in Jacksonville. Art exercises a tremendous influence over our personal identity and public values. Learning to understand, appreciate and strengthen that influence enriches our lives as individuals. It also helps us take greater responsibility for the character of our communities and determine whether and to what extent our public artistic and cultural spaces embody the principles we profess.

The evening will feature music by The Lyricist LIVE creator Mal Jones, an open mic street party held during the downtown Art Walk, as well as TED Talks, audience discussion and four expert panelists who have made lasting contributions to Jacksonville’s artistic community.

The panelists include:
· Tiffany Melanson
· Ebony Payne-English
· Christina Parrish Stone
· Roosevelt Watson III

The “Art (Re)Defines Us” salon is free to attend. Check-in and live music are scheduled to begin at 5:30 p.m. For more information, or to register, please visit tedxfscj.com.

Identifying Learning Problems

Identifying Learning ProblemsReading, writing, and math are the building blocks of learning. Mastering these subjects early on can affect many areas of life, including school, work, and even overall health. It’s normal to make mistakes and even struggle a little when learning new things. But repeated, long-lasting problems may be a sign of a learning disability.

Learning disabilities aren’t related to how smart a child is. They’re caused by differences in the brain that are present from birth, or shortly after. These differences affect how the brain handles information and can create issues with reading, writing, and math.

“Typically, in the first few years of elementary school, some children, in spite of adequate instruction, have a hard time and can’t master the skills of reading and writing as efficiently as their peers,” says Dr. Benedetto Vitiello, a child mental health expert at NIH. “So the issue is usually brought up as a learning problem.”

In general, the earlier a learning disability is recognized and addressed, the greater the likelihood for success in school and later in life. “Initial screening and then ongoing monitoring of children’s performance is important for being able to tell quickly when they start to struggle,” explains Dr. Brett Miller, a reading and writing disabilities expert at NIH. “If you’re not actively looking for it, you can miss opportunities to intervene early.”

Each learning disability has its own signs. A child with a reading disability may be a poor speller or have trouble reading quickly or recognizing common words. A child with a writing disability may write very slowly, have poor handwriting, or have trouble expressing ideas in writing and organizing text. A math disability can make it hard for a child to understand basic math concepts (like multiplication), make change in cash transactions, or do math-related word problems.

Learning difficulties can affect more than school performance. If not addressed, they can also affect health. A learning disability can make it hard to understand written health information, follow a doctor’s directions, or take the proper amount of medication at the right times. Learning disabilities can also lead to a poor understanding of the benefits of healthy behaviors, such as exercise, and of health risks, such as obesity. This lack of knowledge can result in unhealthy behaviors and increased chances for disease.

Not all struggling learners have a disability. Many factors affect a person’s ability to learn. Some students may learn more slowly or need more practice than their classmates. Poor vision or hearing can cause a child to miss what’s being taught. Poor nutrition or exposure to toxins early in life can also contribute to learning difficulties.

If a child is struggling in school, parents or teachers can request an evaluation for a learning disability. The U.S. Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act requires that public schools provide free special education support to children, including children with specific learning disabilities, who need such services. To qualify for these services, a child must be evaluated by the school and meet specific federal and state requirements. An evaluation may include a medical exam, a discussion of family history, and intellectual and school performance testing.

Many people with learning disabilities can develop strategies to cope with their disorder. A teacher or other learning specialist can help kids learn skills that build on their strengths to counter-balance their weaknesses. Educators may provide special teaching methods, make changes to the classroom, or use technologies that can assist a child’s learning needs.

A child with a learning disability may also struggle with low self-esteem, lack of confidence, and frustration. In the case of a math learning disability, math anxiety may play a role in worsening math abilities. A counselor can help children use coping skills and build healthy attitudes about their ability to learn.

“If appropriate interventions are provided, many of these challenges can be minimized,” explains Dr. Kathy Mann Koepke, a math learning disability expert at NIH. “Parents and teachers should be aware that their own words and behavior around learning and doing math are implicitly learned by the young people around them and may lessen or worsen math anxiety.”

“We often talk about these conditions in isolation, but some people have more than one challenge,” Miller says. Sometimes children with learning disabilities have another learning disorder or other condition, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

“ADHD can be confused with a learning problem,” Vitiello says. ADHD makes it difficult for a child to pay attention, stay focused, organize information, and finish tasks. This can interfere with schoolwork, home life, and friendships. But ADHD is not considered a learning disability. It requires its own treatments, which may include behavior therapy and medications.

“Parents play an important role in treatment, especially for children in elementary school,” Vitiello says. Medications and behavioral interventions are often delivered at home. Teachers can usually advise parents on how to help kids at home, such as by scheduling appropriate amounts of time for learning-related activities. Parents can also help by minimizing distractions and encouraging kids to stay on task, such as when doing homework. Effective intervention requires consistency and a partnership between school and home.

Many complex factors can contribute to development of learning disabilities. Learning disorders tend to run in families. Home, family, and daily life also have a strong effect on a child’s ability to learn starting from a very early age. Parents can help their children develop skills and build knowledge during the first few years of life that will support later learning.

“Early exposure to a rich environment is important for brain development,” Mann Koepke says. Engage your child in different learning activities from the start. Before they’re even speaking, kids are learning. “Even if it’s just listening and watching as you talk about what you’re doing in your daily tasks,” she says.

Point out and talk with children about the names, colors, shapes, sizes, and numbers of objects in their environment. Try to use comparison words like “more than” or “less than.” This will help teach your child about the relationships between things, which is important for learning math concepts, says Mann Koepke. Even basic things, like getting enough sleep and eating a healthy diet, can help children’s brain development and their ability to learn.

NIH is continuing to invest in research centers that study learning challenges and their treatments, with a special focus on understudied and high-risk groups.

Although there are no “cures,” early interventions offer essential learning tools and strategies to help lessen the effects of learning disabilities. With support from caregivers, educators, and health providers, people with learning disabilities can be successful at school, work, and in their personal lives.

Article by NIH News in Health, Office of Communications and Public Liaison
Editor: Harrison Wein, Ph.D.
Contributors: Vicki Contie, Alan Defibaugh (illustrations) and Tianna Hicklin.

September 2016 Writers by the Sea

The September “Writers by the Sea” Amelia Island meeting will be held on September 15, 2016, at the Amelia Island Museum of History, 6:00 p.m.

Tell and Sell Your Story
Michael Regina, illustrator and editor, will provide an artist’s approach to: How Art and Illustration Tell and Sell Your Story. Michael Regina is an award winning film editor, painter and illustrator, largely known for his portraits and comics work: The latter have grown in popularity since his online graphic novel, From Death ’til Now, was released. Aside from developing his own projects, Michael has served as an assistant on the last two volumes of Scholastic’s popular series, Amulet by Kazu Kibuishi. Michael received a BFA in Painting and Drawing at the University of North Florida and studied under several painting masters; including portrait artist Kyle Keith. Michael’s comics work is represented by Fine Print Literary Management – www.michaeleregina.com

The event is Free-of-charge to all writers.

A Letter to Those I’ll Never be Able to Thank

Not too long ago I found myself stranded in Los Angeles, California, betrayed by the man I had hoped to spend the rest of my life with. Now, don’t get me wrong, it is NEVER easy to find out that the person you’re with is being unfaithful, but, finding out that the man I am in love with is actually in love with someone else (while I’m 2000 miles away from home visiting him) is probably the shittiest thing that has ever happened to me. I had no where to go, no one to turn to, and no clue of what to do next. All I knew was that I needed to get out of there. We got my airplane ticket transferred so that I could leave early to be with my family and even as angry as I was, I knew that saying “goodbye” was going to be so hard.

He drove me to the airport at 4:30 a.m. the next morning and couldn’t stop apologizing. He seemed upset, but I genuinely don’t think he will ever feel the immense pain that I felt knowing he must have stopped loving me at some point in the few months prior. When I turned away from the car and started towards the entrance to LAX, I lost it. Every bone and muscle and joint in my body hurt and I couldn’t keep myself from sobbing as I retrieved my boarding pass. Thank god for the self-service kiosks! I wasn’t composed enough to talk to an attendant.

I wiped my eyes and tried to breathe as I walked down, what seemed like an endless hallway, towards the start of the security line. By this time it was 5:15 a.m. and there were a total of 12 people going through security, including me and the hipster with a guitar case behind me. I wiped my eyes and continued to sniffle, but stopped crying long enough to find my ID and get ready to hand my pass to the guard. As we got closer, I could hear the short, automatic responses between the guard and people in front of me – it was very clear that he wasn’t happy about being at work so early.

“Ticket?” *beep* “Enjoy your flight. Next!” were the extent of the words he exchanged with the few people in front of me while he scanned their passes. When it became my turn, I mustered up the best smile I could manage and handed over my license and boarding pass. To my surprise, he smiled back and began to make small talk… commenting on the baseball shirt that I was wearing and asking about their star player. This is the kind of conversation that I would generally thrive on! I love sports and I know everything there is to know about Bryce Harper and the Nationals. But this morning was different, it seemed obvious to me that this nice, male security guard, with a beautiful smile, was trying to cheer me up, not caring why I was so upset, but caring enough to make it go away. I’ll never be able to thank him for engaging me in conversation, albeit short and mostly one-sided, I appreciated the effort so much more than I could have let on at the time. Especially when I had rounded the corner to slip my shoes off and we continued to make eye contact. He finally gave me a brief side smile that seemed to say everything was going to be okay, before turning to the person in line behind me and saying, “Ticket?” *beep* “Enjoy your flight. Next!”

I slumped into a seat at my gate and stupidly texted my ex to tell him I made it. It didn’t take long for him to respond, “If it makes you feel any better, I am a mess, the second you walked away I lost it.” OF COURSE THAT DIDN’T MAKE ME FEEL ANY BETTER!

That one text would make me start blubbering like a baby again, enough to startle the woman sitting across from me. I knew I wouldn’t be able to avoid her forever so I lifted my head and made eye contact with her. “Are you okay? Would you like some water? Or part of my granola bar?” She quickly asked me. I smiled, knowing that if I was in her position, I, too would have offered this young, crying girl, the granola bar right out of my mouth.

“No, thank you. I’m just having a rough day.” I proceeded to give her a few details because she seemed interested in helping me in any way she could. She was very genuine and so kind, and she is another person that I will never be able to express my sincere gratitude to. She said some very kind and encouraging words before we parted ways and boarded the plane to Chicago.

I was a mess the whole flight, thankfully the guy next to me was asleep so I didn’t have to worry about explaining myself again. I sat back and tried to escape by reading Amy Schumer’s new book of short essays about her life, unfortunately this didn’t help as much as I anticipated, but I did get a few laughs!

We landed in Chicago and at that time I had a little over an hour before my next flight, the flight home to Jacksonville. I stepped off the jet bridge and started looking for signs leading me to the next terminal when I heard someone say my name. I turned to face the kind woman from the last airport and she said, “Ally…. I have been thinking about you the whole flight and I know that I only got to chat with you for a short time, but I just had to let you know that you are so kind and so genuine and I know you’re hurting now, but you’re going to find someone who is so much better suited for you. I just know it.”

I couldn’t have asked for a better stranger to confide in. I hope I made it clear to her how much I appreciated all of the nice things she said to me, but, I may never know. I may never be able to tell her how much that meant to me and how that encounter would be the only thing that helped me keep my sanity long enough to get home.

My flight kept getting delayed and pushed back due to mechanical issues and weather in the Carolina’s. And progressively I got sadder and sadder. I never asked for help and I don’t think I looked like I needed any, either. I really just wanted to find a bar to sit at and drink my sorrows away, but unfortunately for me, they were all full and had long wait times. We ended up being delayed 6 hours and during that time, I met a very nice lady who was traveling alone to visit her sick sister, she was so thoughtful and never once asked me why I was so sad, but went out of her way to cheer me up, she made sure I was well fed and entertained. We sat together and just talked for hours about nothing important, but she is a third person, from the same day, that I may never see again to thank.

So, thank you kind security officer who didn’t HAVE to smile at me, and thank you dark haired woman who hugged me when we exited the plane – I hope you’re right about me finding someone better, and thank you lady who helped the delay to Jacksonville go by a little faster. You all honestly made light out of such a terrible day for me, probably unintentionally, and for that I am forever grateful. I just hope some day I will be able to return the favor with kind words or a smile to someone who needs them as desperately as I did that day. My faith in humanity has been restored and for this I thank you.

Create Wildlife Habitat in Your Landscape

Master gardener volunteer, Bea Walker, will conduct a presentation on how to create a wildlife habitat in your landscape.

-Learn how to attract butterflies and birds and other desirable wildlife to your gardens.
-Learn the four key requirements to create a wildlife-friendly environment; recommended plantings will be discussed and photos of two local gardens will be featured.
-Learn about the resources and programs available to support your efforts.

Class is free and open to the public. For more information, see the Extension website at http://nassau.ifas. ufl.edu/horticulture/landmatters/landmatters.html, or call the Extension office at 530-6351.

Landscape Matters
Wednesday, September 7, 10 a.m.
Yulee Extension Office, 86026 Pages Diary Road

Tropical Depression NINE 2016… or Something Stronger

While it may seem calm outside right now, and Nassau County’s Emergency Operations Center facebook page says it will activate to a Level 2 (indicating a threat is looming) at 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday, you need to pay attention to the television and radio for the newest updates on Tropical Depression NINE. Knowing when the National Hurricane Center delivers updates will keep you from wasting hours of precious time in anticipation of the newest news as the system approaches the Florida peninsula. Official updates including the progress and potential track of the storm, watches and/or warnings that may be issued, and the associated maps and graphics are updated every six hours… think 5:00 and 11 o’clock (a.m. and p.m.). In addition, interim updates come out at 2:00 and 8 o’clock. Times are set to the time zone of the center of the tropical disturbance (I think).

It has been quite some time since our last big tropical event, so we may be a bit complacent and lackadaisical while the local media focuses on the pending system. At the time I wrote this, there were no current warnings or watches up for northeast Florida, but, they will likely be issued should the system remain on the current track.

Just to be safe, this may be a good time to open the hurricane kit you have stored in the garage and see what’s in there. Is it possible that some of your emergency supplies may be expired, or were used on your most recent camping trip? I suggest you go ahead and stock up on water, baby food, diapers, and formula, medications and personal sanitary supplies, pet food, extra batteries, and non-perishable foods that will last for three to five days should we experience an extended power outage, or flooded or blocked roads. Make sure you have a fire extinguisher and a first aid kit, too.

It is a good idea to have a similar kit packed in your car in case you need to leave in a hurry. Don’t forget food, water, jumper cables, and a map – as signs often blow down. The GPS on your smartphone phone may finally come in handy! This may be a good time to charge those portable cell phone chargers that have been laying around the house since last Christmas, as well.

Make an emergency plan for communicating with friends, relatives, and loved ones. We use someone, not in our geographical location, as a central source for communicating with others. A large portion of our family is located in various parts of Florida, but our oldest daughter is in Chattanooga; she will be our central point of communications.

As the system approaches, it is looking like we may indeed experience sustained winds of 39 to 73 mph as it passes through Northeast Florida. Flooding and flash flooding could be an issue as the depression is expected to produce 4 to 6 inches of rain over Amelia Island by Friday morning, and up to 12 inches in some areas.

If you live in an area prone to flooding, make preparations now such as filling sandbags or moving furniture, vehicles and other valuables to higher ground. You should go ahead and secure items around your home so they don’t become projectiles in the event of high winds. Items to put away or tie down include:

Yard signs (We just had “election day”)
Lawn furniture
Buckets
Children’s toys
Tiki torches
Pool toys
Plants stands and shepherd hooks
Trash cans
Yard art and Landscaping “features”

Watches and Warning
A Watch = conditions are favorable for a weather event to occur.
A Warning = Weather events have been reported by spotters.

Example:
A severe thunderstorm watch would mean conditions are favorable for a severe thunderstorm to occur.
A severe thunderstorm warning means severe thunderstorms are occurring in the designated “warning” area.

The same with a tornado watch vs. a tornado warning. A tornado “watch” means conditions are ripe for a tornado to occur, while a tornado “warning” means a tornado has been spotted in the designated warning area. Tornadoes are very likely when these tropical systems pass over land.

Power outages and wind
Usually our electricity begins to fail when power lines are knocked down by flying debris and falling limbs. With gusts of 20 to 30 mph you can expect dead limbs to fall from trees. With winds of 30 to 40 mph, large trees begin to sway and walking can be tough; lawn furniture will blow around and trash cans will tumble over. At 41 to 50 mph, branches will break off of trees, you may see shingles blow off, and eaves can lift, too. NOAA.gov describes “Damaging winds are classified as those exceeding 50 – 60 mph” and along with 60 mph winds you can expect windows to blow out and parts of your roof to fly off, and at 75 mph – structures can become compromised and debris being blown around becomes hazardous to people, and everything else in its path. And winds can become stronger if they are funneled between tight areas – such as houses that are built very close together.

Unlike a typical 30 minute summer thunderstorm, where we see strong winds and torrential rains, these tropical conditions can last for several hours.

I’m currently trying to find an “accurate” answer to when the bridges to Amelia Island are closed due to high winds.

Updates to this article may be added as warranted.

Stay safe!