Miami-Dade County

FIU launches Spanish-language hurricane warning website

As the height of the tropical storm season approaches, a new website run by Florida International University will provide hurricane warnings and advisories to Spanish-language speakers.

“This website is going to help us to prepare better and to ensure that we have a much healthier and safer outcome in the event of a hurricane,” said FIU President Marc Rosenberg.

The site will translate storm warnings into Spanish from the National Hurricane Center. It also features advice on how to prepare for a hurricane by creating an evacuation plan and emergency kit, as well as educational and scientific materials about tropical storms.

Ultimately the goal of the state-funded site — — is to widen access to valuable scientific and public safety information, said Richard Olson, the director of the International Hurricane Research Center at FIU.

“We don’t want to have any particular segment of the population feeling left out because then they disproportionately become the victims,” Olson said.

The ability to predict hurricanes has improved over the last few decades and scientists are better able to track the path of a storm as it develops, but the technology is far from perfect and relies on probability models.

“Our greatest challenge is intensity prediction,” said Todd Kimberlain, a hurricane specialist at the National Hurricane Center. “We may not get it right every time and that’s why we need folks to be prepared.”

This season is predicted to be a below-average year for hurricanes, but experts warn that 1992, the year that Hurricane Andrew devastated communities across south Florida, was also a below-average year.

“It only takes one storm to change the landscape of a community,” said Julie Roberts of the Florida Division of Emergency Management. “Developing a culture of preparedness includes providing information to those people living in Florida and those visiting our state when English may not be their first language.”

Hurricane season runs from the beginning of June through the end of November.