Hurricane Irene Now Category 2 Storm

MIAMI - Hurricane Irene has churned into a stronger Category 2 storm and has cut a destructive path through the Caribbean as it heads toward the U.S. coast.
Forecasters at the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said Monday night that a hurricane hunter aircraft measured maximum sustained winds of 100 mph (155 kph).
The storm raked Puerto Rico with strong winds and rain. It is spinning just north of the Dominican Republic on a track that could carry it to the U.S. Southeast as a major storm by the end of the week.
The first hurricane of the Atlantic season was a large system. Irene is forecast to grow into a Category 3 hurricane with winds of 115 mph (184 kph) over the Bahamas on Thursday.

First Coast Crews Get Ready For Irene

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. --  City crews spent Monday cleaning out city drains, prepping them for possible heavy downpours from Irene.

MORE: Tracking the Tropics 

JEA also had crews around town trimming back tree limbs getting them ready for possible hurricane-force winds.

And down south in Clay County, dozens of computers are un-boxed and set up in the emergency operations center.

MORE: Turner Loose

"The order was given this morning....By the end of the day, be set up and fully functional in here at a moment's notice and staff notifications will start," said Chief Lorin Mock, Clay Fire and Rescue.

FWC urges boat owners to secure their vessels before storm hits

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) advises boat owners to secure their boats properly in advance of possible sustained heavy winds from Hurricane Irene.

Vessels that break free can cause problems to waterways by causing fuel and oil pollution, drifting into bridges, docks, seawalls and piers, and interfering with navigation.  In addition, the boats themselves can sustain damage.

Firestorm 2011 has a smoky choke-hold on area but relief on the way in the short and long-term!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Yes, it certainly was like a never-ending severe weather cut-in during last night's weather casts. I showed one plume of smoke after another and at one point a dozen new wildfires were being tracked per hour on live doppler radar. I have never seen anything like it. I have been tracking weather all over the country for about 20 years at different media outlets and on my own since I was 4 years old drawing weather maps. I usually love weather extremes but I have put fires and smoke on the list with ice storms as my least favorite weather to track and forecast. The main thing yesterday like every day is keeping people safe and sticking to the basics. I got word out on the wind direction that may threaten neighborhoods. Luckily there were no big wind shifts and evacuations were minimal. Good for people, but bad for our lungs as the air quality went into the unhealthy range for sensitive groups.

Tips for Staying Cool

Tips for Staying Cool

As the temperature creeps close to 100 degrees, our ER doctors want to remind the public to stay safe.

“Hot weather illnesses can creep up on you,” says Memorial Hospital’s Dr. Steven Blake. “You have to drink a lot of water and realize that you can get a heat-related illness during any time of the day when it is this hot.”

Elderly Man Thankful He's Alive After Car Crushed by Trees

Elderly Man Thankful He's Alive After Car Crushed by Trees

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Severe weather turned scary for a man who was trying to wait out Monday afternoon's storms.

Jerry Felos was sitting in his vehicle, parked near Joyful Life Ministries in the 1000 block of Arlington Road when he was nearly crushed. 

The 85-year-old pulled over to stay safe during the pounding rains that accompanies the storms.

"Well, I pulled off the road because of the heavy rain, and all of a sudden I heard a bang.  Next thing I know, this tree fell on me.  Thank God it didn't hurt me. It got close to my head.  It completely messed up the car."

Two oak trees fell on top of Felos' car, landing just five or six inches from his head. If those trees weren't scary enough, there were also power lines running directly over the Cadillac.

Even Monday's Rain Can't Squelch Raging Wildfires

Even Monday's Rain Can't Squelch Raging Wildfires

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Parts of the First Coast got some much-needed rain Monday, but the Division of Forestry said that even this wet weather hasn't been able to tame the wildfires raging in several counties.

According to DOF spokesperson Annaleasa Winter, the heaviest rain hit in areas, like Southside and Mandarin, that don't have any fires burning.

In fact, Winter said it's possible that lightning strikes from the storms coming though the area Monday may have started some new fires.

DOF investigators believe the lightning is to blame for fires along County Road 209 and near the Dee Dot Ranch on the Southside.