The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), through its national headquarters in Washington, D.C., regional offices in Denton, Texas, and Atlanta, Georgia, and liaisons at the National Hurricane Center in Florida, is monitoring the track of Tropical Depression 16 that has formed in the Gulf of Mexico. While it is too early to specify the timing or magnitude of the possible impacts of the storm, FEMA is encouraging residents and visitors in areas along the Gulf Coast to monitor weather reports, and follow directions from local officials.
According to the National Hurricane Center, the depression is forecast to strengthen and bring tropical storm conditions and heavy rainfall to portions of Nicaragua and Honduras tonight through Thursday. The system is forecast to continue strengthening over the Gulf of Mexico and could affect portions of the northern Gulf Coast of the Unites States as a hurricane this weekend, with direct impacts from wind, storm surge, and heavy rainfall.
As of 11 a.m. EDT, the center of Tropical Depression 16 was located about 210 miles south southeast of Cabo Gracias a Dios on the Nicaragua/Honduras border. The depression is moving toward the northwest near 7 miles per hours and this motion is expected to continue today. On the forecast track, the depression should be nearing the coast of Nicaragua early Thursday, move across northeastern Nicaragua and eastern Honduras late Thursday, and emerge into the northwestern Caribbean Sea on Friday.
History shows that storm tracks can change quickly and unexpectedly. Residents and visitors in areas potentially affected by the severe weather, should continue to monitor local radio or TV stations for updated emergency information, and follow the instructions of state, local, and tribal officials.
The FEMA app (available in English and Spanish) provides a customizable checklist of emergency supplies, directions to open shelters and recovery centers, disaster survival tips, and weather alerts from the National Weather Service. The app also enables users to receive push notifications reminding them to take important steps to prepare their homes and families for disasters.
Safety and Preparedness Tips:
FEMA recommends residents along the Gulf Coast from Louisiana to Florida should monitor the progress of this system for the next several days, heed instructions from local officials and follow the below preparedness and safety tips:
Be familiar with evacuation routes, have a communications plan, keep a battery-powered radio handy and have a plan for pets. Visit www.ready.gov or www.listo.gov to learn these and other preparedness tips for tropical storms.
If local or tribal officials order evacuations, evacuate.
Get to know the terms that are used to identify severe weather and discuss with your family what to do if a watch or warning is issued.
For a tropical storm:
A Tropical Storm Watch is issued when tropical cyclone containing winds of at least 39 MPH or higher poses a possible threat, generally within 48 hours.
A Tropical Storm Warning is issued when sustained winds of 39 MPH or higher associated with a tropical cyclone are expected in 36 hours or less.
For a hurricane:
A Hurricane Watch is issued when a tropical cyclone containing winds of at least 74 MPH poses a possible threat, generally within 48 hours.
A Hurricane Warning is issued when sustained winds of 74 MPH or higher associated with a tropical cyclone are expected in 36 hours or less. A hurricane warning can remain in effect when dangerously high water or a combination of dangerously high water and exceptionally high waves continue, even though winds may be less than hurricane force.
Businesses of all sizes should prepare in advance for the approaching storm to prevent loss of life, property, or disruption to operations. Businesses can review and update their business continuity plans and ensure their workforce knows what to do before and during the storm. Resources are available on web sites such as Ready.gov/business and the SBA.gov/disaster-planning.