PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — WMBB Chief Meteorologist Ross Whitley has a message for residents and viewers concerned about hurricanes: “Don’t be scared, be prepared.”
Chief Whitley joined a virtual panel of other weather experts hosted by the National Weather Service to talk about hurricane preparedness Wednesday night.
“Hide from wind, run from water” was another message he said people need to know for any hurricane coming through the area, especially to residents still rattled from Hurricane Michael in 2018 and Hurricane Sally in 2020.
“What I hear from people most of the time is just how significant of an event [Hurricane Michael] was,” Chief Whitley said. “I’ve heard many, many stories from all over the place about how it has either scared them, or left them scarred or with PTSD.”
Chief Whitley said every weather event is different, so the best way to handle any event is to just be prepared and mentally ready.
For an upcoming storm, he said the first step is to evaluate the situation and stay informed about evacuating.
“Most of the time during those events, a majority of the information is pushed out through the National Hurricane Center and pushed out through our emergency managers. I usually direct people to those locations to say ‘Hey, you know, if you think you need to evacuate and if you don’t feel safe, then evacuate because this is for your safety.'”
He also recommends keeping a hurricane kit on-hand that includes non-perishable food and water, along with walkie-talkies with a four to five mile range in case cell phones do not work.
He said another severe weather event will happen, but residents just have to be prepared for it.
“[Local weather information outlets] are all on the same team… Every single person is going to try to communicate the best we can to keep people safe,” Chief Whitley said. “That’s what we’re doing, and that’s our job.”
View the playback of the live stream at this link or below. Chief Whitley’s presentation begins at 41:22.