By Chris Edwards
Hurricane season is official upon us, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is predicting a likely range of 13 to 20 named storms until Nov. 30.
The season usually ramps up in August and hits a peak in mid-September. Last year, Hurricane Laura barely missed the Deep East Texas region before turning eastward to Louisiana. As with any hurricane season, state officials and emergency management personnel are already warning residents to be prepared.
Hurricane season officially begins on the first day of June every year, and during that month, Tropical Storm Ana swept through the region.
NOAA is predicting a 60% chance of an above-normal season, a 30% chance of it being near-normal and a 10% chance of it being below-normal. The experts, however, do not predict the same historic level of storm activity that last year brought.
United States Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo said in an NOAA news release that now is the time for both coastal as well as inland communities to get prepared for “the dangers that hurricanes can bring.”
The early warnings will also help minimize the economic impacts of potential storms, Raimondo said.
Based on NOAA modeling, an average hurricane season produces 14 named storms, of which seven become hurricanes.
According to NOAA, the conditions caused by the El Nino Southern Oscillation are in the neutral phase, but there is a possibility of the return of La Nina later during the hurricane season.
With frequent, near-historic levels of rainfall in the area throughout May, the Deep East Texas region has witnessed an already-wet period leading into the hurricane season and summer, but ultimately, “it’s all about preparedness,” according to Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush.
In an interview on the cusp of the start of hurricane season, Bush said that his office reaches out to constituents each June 1 and reminds them to have a plan. “Everybody in Texas needs to have a plan, whether it’s for evacuation or taking care of your most-trusted documents and belongings,” he said.