With extreme weather conditions expected later this week, safety precautions are essential. To ensure safety, the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) provides a new app Floridians can use during severe weather.
The 2016 Atlantic Hurricane season officially began June 1 and runs through November 30. According to The Weather Channel, the 2016 Atlantic Hurricane season is expected to be the most active since 2012.
FDOT alerts travelers in Florida to prepare for severe weather through Florida’s 511 Traveler Information System. The 511 system provides information on traffic conditions: including road closures, emergency alerts, evacuation routes, toll suspensions and more before, during and after severe weather.
Kayla Jefferson, a lead teller at Gulf Winds Federal Credit Union, thinks this app is beneficial but has some concerns.
“511 seems like it will be a great source for information, however I wouldn’t solely rely on it for information because cell phone towers could shut down along with cellular service during an intense storm,” Jefferson said.
State Trooper of the Florida Highway Patrol Steven Montiero gave advice for anyone traveling on the road and highly recommends using Florida 511’s system.
“If you are in your car and you know severe weather is imminent, the first thing I would recommend is FL511,” Montiero said. “Check to see if the major roadways are clear. If there are major traffic incidents on the roadway and prepare for any disaster that might take place.”
Florida’s 511 features include: traffic information on all interstate highways, toll roads and many other metropolitan roadways, public transit, airport and seaport information. Travel information and traffic camera views are also provided, along with voice-activated and touch-tone navigation available when calling 511.
Melanie Steinberg, WXTL meteorologist, thinks this app will be very useful.
“We don't actually get specific names of roads, areas, etc. so in times of severe weather or heavy flooding this would (be) pretty useful so viewers can know which specific areas to avoid. We only know the information the National Weather Service shares in the chat which we then posts to various media platforms. Overall, I believe the app may be able to help inform people quicker than we can,” Steinberg said.
Residents can download the free Florida 511 mobile app available on Google Play or Apple App Store, or call 511 toll free for updates in English and Spanish. Motorists need to visit FL511.com for interactive roadway maps showing traffic congestion and crashes, travel times and traffic camera views. Sign up for a “My Florida 511” account at FL511.com to create custom routes and register for email, text or phone alerts and follow one of the 13 statewide, regional or roadway-specific Twitter feeds (#FL511).
In addition, FL511.com provides links to county emergency resources, weather reports and advisories. FDOT reminds all travelers to use 511 before traveling and encourages passengers to continuously check the app.