Gulf Coast Hurricane Tracker

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Friday, May 25, 2007

Post your bets now...Odds are on a strong season

As we get close to the official start of the hurricane season for 2007, weather experts are shoring up their predictions on the number of storms and intensity.

The short of it is " hang on to your hats, folks. It looks like it's going to be a rough ride."

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's report calls for 13 to 17 named storms, up to 10 of which might become hurricanes. About 10 tropical storms and hurricanes form during an average year.

Federal officials, including Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff, took the opportunity Tuesday to warn coastal-dwelling Americans not to become complacent about the coming season, after a relatively mild hurricane season last year.

"It is a big mistake to count on being lucky again," Chertoff said. "You are much better off preparing yourself for the worst, and if nothing happens, it's a bonus."

Becoming complacent is the worst thing that we as residents along the coasts can become. We MUST be prepared for one or more storms to hit in our area. If we do not come then we are ahead of the game. It is better to be prepared and not need to be then have a major situation and not know what to do.

According to U.S. Census figures released Tuesday, 12 percent of the U.S. population, or 34.9 million people, live in the coastal areas — from North Carolina to Texas — most threatened by hurricanes. That's up from 10 million in 1950.

This means there are a lot of new coastal residents who may not have experienced a hurricane before, especially along the upper Texas coast, which hasn't been hit by a major hurricane since 1983, when Alicia struck.

I do not mean in any way that we should be all panicky and worried about the sky falling. Being prepared means:

  • Having at least 1/2 of a tank of gas in the car at all times.
  • Knowing the preferred evacuation route from your area.
  • Knowing where you want to go if it is different from the recommended route.
  • Knowing how early you would need to leave to get to you preferred destination - are you going someplace in particular or is any hotel or shelter sufficient.
  • What are you going to with the pets?
  • Wood to board up windows or other methods to secure the house.
  • If you are not supposed to leave then making sure you have the proper supplies - fresh water, canned foods, etc.
Another way to be prepared is that when a storm approaches, make sure all loose objects are brought indoors or otherwise secured. Anything loose will become a projectile and create much damage, destruction and death. A clean yard can help to keep the damage down. Pruning back any trees and bushes will also minimize damage to windows and the outside of the house.

The season officially starts Friday June 1 bit we've already had our first named storm - subtropical storm Andrea. With El Nino out of the picture and the temperature swing in the Pacific over to a La Nina combined with warm sea surface temperatures the conditions are right for a strong season. We must be prepared.

Sci Guy (Houston Chronicle Science Blog):

The final hurricane season forecast is in: highly active


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