Now is the time to prepare.
Forecasters are predicting a 60% chance of above-normal activity for the Atlantic hurricane season, June 1 through November 30. And while hurricanes don’t follow any particular calendar, damage from just one storm can be catastrophic.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Center, a division of the National Weather Service, is predicting 13-20 storms with winds of 39 mph or higher, of which 6 to 10 could become hurricanes. Hurricanes have winds of 74 mph or more. Of that, they expect 3-5 of the hurricanes to have 111 mph winds or higher.
Though any part of the Brazos River basin could be affected by hurricanes and their fallout, those nearest the Gulf Coast are of the greatest concern. Prior to hurricane season’s start, those in the southeast portion of the state are issued evacuation zones, or “zip zones,” and routes if there is an emergency. Hurricane evacuations are staggered to prevent gridlock on the highways for Austin, Brazoria, Chambers, Colorado, Fort Bend, Galveston, Harris, Liberty, Matagorda, Montgomery, Walker, Waller or Wharton counties, according to this ABC 13 article. It’s important to know the correct route before an emergency to help prevent gridlock and mass evacuation chaos that becomes more deadly than the story itself. Go here for those routes.
“(El Nino Southern Oscillation)-neutral and La Nina support the conditions associated with the ongoing high-activity era,” said Matthew Rosencrans, lead seasonal hurricane forecaster at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, in a statement. “Predicted warmer-than-average sea surface temperatures in the tropical Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea, weaker tropical Atlantic trade winds, and an enhanced west African monsoon will likely be factors in this year’s overall activity.”
NOAA scientists also continue to study how climate change is impacting the strength and frequency of tropical cyclones, according to the statement.
Thankfully, experts do not anticipate the historic level of storm activity seen in 2020.
There was a record-breaking 30 named stores and 12 landfalling storms in the continental U.S. in 2020, according to NOAA. The second-highest record was in 2005 with 28 named storms.
According to a Houston Chronicle article, other meteorologists have likewise predicted an above-average season. For instance, AccuWeather is forecasting 16 to 20 named storms, with 3-5 major hurricanes, and Colorado State University Tropical Meteorology Project team is predicting 17 named storms with four major hurricanes.
“Visit Ready.gov and Listo.gov to learn and take steps to prepare yourself and others in your household,” said FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell in a statement. “Download the FEMA app to sign-up for a variety of alerts and to access preparedness information. Purchase flood insurance to protect your greatest asset, your home. And, please encourage your neighbors, friends and coworkers to also get ready for the upcoming season.”
Prepare now for hurricanes. Here’s a list to get started from the Federal Emergency Management Agency:
• Know your hurricane risk: Find out how rain, wind, water could happen where you live so you can start preparing now.
• Make an emergency plan: Don’t forget a plan for the office, kids’ daycare, and anywhere you frequent.
• Gather supplies: Have enough supplies for your household, include medication, disinfectant supplies, cloth face coverings, pet supplies in your go-bag or car trunk.
• Know your evacuation zone: Learn your evacuation routes, practice with household pets, and identify where you will stay.
• Recognize warnings and alerts: Download the FEMA app and receive real-time alerts from the National Weather Service
• Review essential documents: Make sure your insurance policies and personal documents like ID are up to date. Make copies and keep them in a secure password-protected digital space.
• Strengthen your home: Declutter drains and gutters, bring in outside furniture, consider hurricane shutters.
• Get tech ready: Keep your cell phone charged when you know a hurricane is in the forecast and purchase backup charging devices to power electronics.
• Help your neighborhood: Check with those who may need additional help securing hurricane plans to see how you can be of assistance to others
Learn more ways to be prepared at Federal Emergency Management Agency, NOAA, and the American Red Cross.