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Batten down the hatches—we’re heading into the peak months for hurricanes, and back in May the NOAA Climate Prediction Center forecast that this would be the seventh consecutive season of above-average activity. That means, according to the prediction, a 65% chance of an Atlantic hurricane season containing 14 to 21 named storms, 6 to 10 hurricanes and 3 to 6 major hurricanes. Of course, that doesn’t mean our area is definitely going to get walloped—we certainly hope to be fortunate enough to dodge a major calamity and continue last year’s streak of relatively peaceful skies and seas. But it’s always good to have a plan. 

As Southwest Florida residents begin keeping a closer eye on the forecasts and going through our checklists to make sure we’re prepared for the possibility of severe weather, power companies continue their work to diminish the risk of storm damage and decrease the length of outages by burying residential and commercial power lines. And while it’s cheaper and easier to do in new construction, older communities have also been making the switch in a process that began in earnest in the wake of 2017’s Hurricane Irma. David Dorsey digs into the details of “undergrounding” this month; read the experts’ plans for large-scale power preparedness beginning on p. 58.

And while hurricanes remain a primary focus for this period of the year, it doesn’t take a major weather event to disrupt the balance of nature and touch off a disaster, as we unfortunately learned during the blue-green algae outbreak of 2018. Water quality should be a perpetual top-of-mind issue for Floridians; Artis Henderson heads out on a guided tour through San Carlos Bay with Daniel Andrews of grassroots nonprofit Captains for Clean Water (p.42) to get a heron’s-eye view of what’s at stake in environmental conservation and discuss possibilities for preserving our area’s special quality of life.

And speaking of local quality of life: This issue also celebrates Gulfshore Business’ 10th annual Best of Business recipients, as readers cast votes for their favorite representatives in 34 categories across an array of industries from accounting and technology to real estate and hospitality services. The winners and finalists are listed beginning on page 70. The Best of Business issue is one we look forward to each year with much anticipation, as it gives thousands of participants a chance to share deserved recognition for local businesses. We applaud all of the recipients for their hard work, talent and dedication to serving Southwest Florida. Congratulations! 

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