By George Slaughter
Hurricane season begins Tuesday and runs through November. For Southeast Texans, it’s time to begin preparing for what the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicts will be an above-average hurricane season.
Previewing the Season
According to The Weather Channel, 19 named storms are predicted for 2021, with eight of them predicted to be hurricanes and four of those being a Category 3 or higher.
- A Category 5 storm, considered catastrophic, has winds of 155+ mph and a storm surge of 18+ feet.
- A Category 4 storm, considered extreme, has winds of 131-155 mph and a storm surge of 13-18 feet.
- A Category 3 storm, considered extensive, has winds of 111-130 mph and a storm surge of 9-12 feet.
- A Category 2 storm, considered moderate, has winds of 96-110 mph and a storm surge of 6-8 feet.
- A Category 1 storm, considered minimal, has winds of 74-95 mph and a storm surge of 4-5 feet.
Hurricane Harvey, which hit the Texas coast at Rockport in August 2017, was a Category 4 storm. The National Weather Service said that Harvey was the first Category 4 storm to hit the Texas coast since Hurricane Carla in 1961.
The NOAA said the United States began naming storms in 1953. At the time, only female names were used. By 1978, the NOAA said, both male and female names were used.
Names are on a preselected list and published years in advance.
Here are some tips Katy-area residents can take now to prepare for hurricane season.
Katy-area residents can stay informed through an automated alert notification system set up by the city. The system, launched in 2019, sends emergency and official city information through email, text, and voicemail messages.
Greg Goedecker, the city’s emergency management coordinator, said one does not have to be a Katy city resident to enroll, though one will need to use a Katy address when enrolling. He said people enroll if they have businesses, friends, and relatives in the city.
Enrollment is free and can be done through the city’s website.
Goedecker said people should also follow the National Hurricane Center, the National Weather Service, and the Harris County Flood Control District for updates.
“Take some time to understand whether your property is prone to flooding,” Goedecker said.
Making a plan for handling a storm has many elements, but all the activities could be categorized into in three categories: property, supplies, and evacuation.
Insuring and Preparing a Property
Homeowner insurance does not cover flooding, but flood insurance does. However, Goedecker said, a flood insurance policy goes into effect 30 days after the paperwork gets signed. For those planning to get flood insurance, do it sooner than later. Nobody wants flooded property with the insurance not yet effective.
Storm-proofing the house is also something to consider. These activities can include installing storm protection on the doors and windows, trimming trees and other vegetation around a house, and cleaning one’s ditches as needed.
Having flashlights and additional power sources, particularly batteries, are important if and when the power goes out. A first-aid kit is also a necessity.
Prescription drugs should also be accounted for when a storm threatens. Make sure you have what you need.
Gathering the Needed Supplies
Goedecker said people should plan to have a week’s worth of food and supplies. Canned foods are better during those times as they are nonperishable. The Texas Department of State Health Services suggests having one gallon of water, per day, per household member.
Having a manual can opener, and knowing how it works, is also important. Many are used to electric openers and the power might go out during a storm.
Pet food and supplies should be part of the food and supply plan. Have pet medications, vaccination records, and pet leashes ready. A crate, if evacuation becomes necessary, is a good idea. Not all places accept uncrated animals should an evacuation be necessary.
“It’s all about comfort,” Goedecker said, adding that, like with flood insurance and batteries, do it now, and don’t wait until the last minute, when a storm may be imminent.
“Don’t wait until the last minute,” Goeecker said.
Evacuating the Area
Should evacuation be necessary, Goedecker said to have a map and plan of where to travel, whether to stay with family or friends, or to a hotel. Car repair items, such as tools, spare tire, and so forth, is also a good idea.
Having food, water, and other supplies is also
But when considering the elements of a hurricane preparedness plan, writing that plan down and communicating it to loved ones, it’s important to look out for one’s neighbors during a storm. The Hurricane Harvey experience in 2017 saw people in need, and neighbors willing to go all-out to help each other.
“It only takes one storm to change somebody’s life,” he said.
Atlantic 5-Day Graphical Tropical Weather Outlook (noaa.gov) offers the latest information on hurricane development in the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico.
TexasReady.gov offers helpful checklists for preparing a hurricane plan.
National Hurricane Preparedness (weather.gov) is the National Weather Service website.