Hurricane season began June 1, and early indicators from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Center show that the Texas Gulf may be in for eventful weather, particularly toward the end of the summer. The Climate Prediction Center predicts a 60% chance of an above-normal season, a 30% chance of a near-normal season and only a 10% chance of a below-normal season. Consequently, the Coast Guard and local public officials have stepped up reminders for preparations.
“Being prepared now and throughout the hurricane season is crucial to ensure the safety of you and your family, should a storm come ashore,” said Rear Admiral John Nadeau, Commander of the Eighth Coast Guard District. “We highly recommend that you have a survival kit with items like batteries, flashlights, radios and water. It’s also critical to pay close attention to weather both ashore and out at sea, and heed the messages and evacuation orders if issued by state and local authorities.”
To emphasize storm emergency planning measures, the Harris County Office of Homeland Security & Emergency Management (HCOHSEM) recently collaborated digitally with the National Weather Service and the Houston area’s on-air meteorological talent. The virtual webinar event provided a platform for trusted sources to reiterate the dangers posed by tropical weather as well as the actions the public needs to take to ensure their safety and that of their family, particularly in light of the extra precautions that may be required during the current COVID-19 pandemic.
“If we are impacted by a tropical storm or hurricane, it’s crucial that we all have a plan, the resources we need to take care of ourselves our family and our pets for seven days. Most importantly, stay informed,” Harris County Emergency Management Coordinator Mark Sloan said during the webinar.
Overall, officials stress keeping the following priorities in mind for this hurricane season:
Putting together an emergency essentials kit. Stocking up in advance is safer, more efficient and less expensive than waiting until a storm is in the Gulf. Plan a seven-day supply. For information on items to include, visit readyharris.org and/or Ready.gov/kit
Knowing your workplace plan. Working remotely could add new dynamics to hurricane preparations. You may need to back up data differently or make advance provision for valuable equipment. Learn your employer’s plans and communication methods for a major storm.
Knowing your surroundings. Know the elevation of your house and property. Hurricanes often bring storm surge, which is considered the greatest threat to property and life during any tropical storm. For information about Harris County watersheds, see www.hcfcd.org/. For more information on potential storm surge areas, visit www.nhc.noaa.gov/surge/inundation/
Keeping current on the weather.
Get rainfall and stream level alerts via email/text from the Harris County Flood Warning System. The regional system measures rainfall and monitors water levels in bayous, creeks, and rivers on a real-time basis to inform area residents of potential flooding conditions. This system relies on a network of guage stations that have been strategically placed throughout Harris and surrounding counties. Sign up at fwsalerts.org.
The Coast Guard mobile app for boating safety is a tool to check marine weather from your phone. With the mobile app, you can check the weather at nearby NOAA buoys, which provides wind speed and direction along with wave height. See uscgboating.org/mobile/.
Securing boats. Review your hurricane plan with your local marina. Ensure you have a plan to both bring your boat in and strap it down ashore or ensure it is properly equipped to ride out the storm at the marina.
Listening to local officials: If told to evacuate, do so immediately. Learn evacuation routes in advance and plan how to evacuate to higher ground. For a Harris County interactive evacuation map, see http://www.gis.hctx.net/evacuationmap.