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Two Months in, Hurricane Season Mild

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 August Marks Peak Time for Storms

By Will Johnson

Messenger Reporter

EAST TEXAS – Hurricane season is now two months in and so far the Gulf Coast has been spared the brunt of major damage. Even though the damage has been minimal, the start of August marks the peak of hurricane season.   

While the Houston and Anderson Counties are landlocked, that doesn’t mean the effects of a hurricane cannot be felt behind the Pine Curtain.

Those who resided in the area during 2008, well remember the damage wrought by Hurricane Ike.

In a press release to mark the start of hurricane season, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) indicated the 2019 season, which runs until Nov. 30, will likely see “… a near-normal Atlantic hurricane season.”

“This outlook forecasts a 40% chance of a near-normal season, a 30% chance of an above-normal season and a 30% chance of a below-normal season. The hurricane season officially extends from June 1 to November 30,” the NOAA media release stated.

The NOAA forecasters further predicted “… a likely range of nine to 15 named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher), of which 4 to 8 could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher), including 2 to 4 major hurricanes (category 3, 4 or 5; with winds of 111 mph or higher). NOAA provides these ranges with a 70% confidence. An average hurricane season produces 12 named storms, of which 6 become hurricanes, including 3 major hurricanes.”

In an interview with Time Magazine, Gerry Bell, NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center lead hurricane forecaster, emphasized “… communities should take the hurricane season seriously because, as 2018 showed, even an average number of storms can cause significant damage.”

“We’re expecting a near-normal season but regardless, that’s a lot of activity, and we need to get ready now,” Bell said.

According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), there are several things a person can do in preparation for a hurricane.

Among these are:

  • Sign up for local alerts and warnings.
  • Monitor local news and weather reports.
  • Prepare to evacuate by testing your emergency communication plan(s), learning evacuation routes, having a place to stay and packing a “go bag.”
  • Stock emergency supplies.
  • Protect your property by installing sewer backflow valves, anchoring fuel tanks, reviewing insurance policies and cataloging belongings.
  • Collect and safeguard critical financial, medical, educational, and legal documents and records.

If a person finds themselves in the path of a hurricane, according to FEMA, they should:

  • Follow guidance from local authorities.
  • If advised to evacuate, grab your “go bag” and leave immediately.
  • For protection from high winds, stay away from windows and seek shelter on the lowest level in an interior room.
  • Move to higher ground if there is flooding or a flood warning.
  • Never walk or drive on flooded roads or through water. In other words “Turn, Around Don’t Drown.”
  • Call 9-1-1 if you are in life-threatening danger.

After the danger has passed, FEMA recommends:

  • Return to the area only after authorities say it is safe to do so.
  • Do not enter damaged buildings until they are inspected by qualified professionals.
  • Never walk or drive on flooded roads or through floodwaters.
  • Look out for downed or unstable trees, poles, and power lines.
  • Do not remove heavy debris by yourself.
  • Wear gloves and sturdy, thick-soled shoes to protect your hands and feet.
  • Do not drink tap water unless authorities say it is safe.

Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at wjohnson@messenger-news.com.