Ed, One excellent reason for posting an early state of emergency is to prevent price gouging for those purchasing supplies and fuel. If for no other reason, that's a positive result that saves significant amounts of money for people just beginning to prepare for the hurricane season. Without that preventive measure your gas might shoot up a couple $ per gallon as people try to profit from those preparing for a possible storm.
In addition, strength forecasting is one of the most difficult and error-prone areas of hurricane studies. It's difficult for the models and the mets. Better safe than sorry would the motto of the officials.
Although I can agree that any hint of a storm leads to near hysteria these days, when in past years we simply prepared our properties and got out of the way. (or some of us, right in the way I attribute this change to the non-stop Katrina sensationalism that continues to this day.
In some ways it's good, it was a strong wake-up call for government agencies, local, state and national. In other ways it isn't so good as it seems to reduce the populace to a panicked mess. When Gustav was clearly headed for NO and not the west coast of FL, we still received 103 phone calls from elderly people who wanted their homes boarded up now, this instant, hurry! We only received 4 calls prior to Charley, many barrier island folks didn't evacuate and we were ground zero until that last minute dash into Port Charlotte. The contrast is stark.
So as lessons are learned, the pendulum will swing from hyper-alertness back into complacency if we aren't hit again by a major storm any time soon. But yes, there is the "cry wolf" syndrome to consider. That will usher in the complacency. I imagine fewer will leave NO next time, as their experience with the Gustav evacuation was unpleasant and costly when they weren't allowed to return home for many days. Unfortunate but inevitable.
-------------------- Never use a long word when a diminutive one will do.
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