Many people associate the end of summer with the end of hurricane season; however, the reality is that the season doesn’t even peak until September 10. In fact, most of the storms that have impacted the Texas Gulf have occurred in September and October, including Ike (in 2008) and Rita (in 2005). Since 1950, 61% of all Atlantic storms have been in late August or September, and on average, another five named storms, three hurricanes and one major hurricane develop after the September 10 peak, as the average date of the formation of the season’s final storm is on November 1. In fact, the season’s final storm has formed in October or November in 81% of the seasons between 1950 and 2012.
When looking at long-term averages of hurricanes and tropical storms in the Atlantic Basin, the majority of storms have occurred between August and October, as several factors increase the likelihood of brewing a storm in September. This optimization results from the African Easterly jet reaching its peak efficiency, generating African easterly waves, a common birth of Atlantic tropical storms. In addition, water has absorbed the sun’s warmth all summer, causing sea-surface temperatures in the tropics to reach their peak in September. These factors, coupled with the relative minimum in deep-layer wind shear, which would otherwise disrupt a central core of thunderstorms from clustering around an area of low pressure, combine to create a favorable climate and environment for a hurricane or tropical storm to develop. Through September, these factors combine to put the areas from the coast of West Africa to the Gulf of Mexico at a prime risk for hurricanes. In October, activity begins to shift, but it doesn’t eliminate the threat for the Texas Coastline. As activity begins to shift out of the Eastern Atlantic, it clusters in the Western Caribbean, posing additional threat to the Gulf of Mexico. The Southwest Atlantic Ocean remains a relative hot spot for development of these storms, as well.
Weather conditions continue to permit tropical storms and hurricanes to form through November 30; however, it is not unheard of to find disturbances through December and January (like Tropical Storm Zeta in 2005, which began on December 30 and lasted until January 6). It is important to take note that many of the most destructive storms in the United States have occurred after Labor Day, including Sandy in 2012, which formed on October 29. As the most active portion of the hurricane season emerges and storms develop in the Gulf of Mexico, it is not too late to properly prepare your home to ensure your family’s safety and eliminate possible complications should a storm come your way. These guidelines will secure your family and home from a disruptive storm.
- Get a generator. Power outage is the most widespread problem during a hurricane or tropical storm. With a generator, your home will maintain power, so you can eliminate a number of issues and preparation.
- Keep your car filled with gas. This will be helpful in case evacuation is necessary.
- Monitor the weather reports, and plan an evacuation route if necessary.
- As the storm grows closer, check your fire extinguisher, first aid supplies and prescription medications. Ensure that you have everything needed in case the storm disrupts power or travel routes.
- If you don’t have a generator, you will need to stock up on appropriate supplies for your home to use while you are without electricity. Some supplies include: sterno, charcoal, lighter fluid, matches, a lighter, candles, flashlights, a two week supply of batteries, a battery operated radio, etc. to allow light. Plus, you will need to purchase non-perishable food items, eating utensils, plates, cups, and a manual can opener, as without power, you won’t have the ability to use the dishwasher, can opener, refrigerator, and other appliances.
- Stock up on bottled water, sports drinks, and a cooler with gel packs. If you don’t have a generator and are without power, stock coolers and bathtubs with ice to store these products. Ensure that you have about a weeks worth of these items for your entire family in the case that travel routes are obstructed with debris after the storm.
- While you are purchasing these items for your home, take out at least $200 from the ATM, as ATMs may be out of order for a while after a severe storm.
- Buy protective clothing/rain gear for your family.
- As long as there is a possibility of a storm approaching, maintain your yard and clear it of loose/unsecured objects to diminish the opportunity for debris to damage your home or injure your family.
- In case of flooding, move your valuables to the upper floors if possible.
- Tape or board your windows before the storm approaches.
- After the storm, you might have to make a few quick home repairs. Check your inventory, and purchase items needed for these repairs, including hammers, nails, masking tape, plywood, and plastic.
- Make sure you have plenty of cleaning supplies on hand to clean up after the storm passes.
- Gather important telephone numbers. If you have electricity, keep your cell phone’s and computer’s charged so that you can keep family updated via your social media and cell phone. If you don’t have electricity, keep your phone charged and use it for emergencies only so that the battery life will last as long as possible.
- You will need blankets and sleeping bags for the family to sleep in the safest room of the house.
- If you evacuate and have to leave your pets, ensure that they have plenty of food and water, and keep them enclosed in the safest room of the house.
- After the storm is over, be careful of power lines, high water, debris, and other issues resulting from the storm that can harm you.
- Check travel routes after the storm is over if you have to work to avoid unexpected delays or road blockages.
- Evaluate the condition of your home. Clean up and repair any destruction to your property. Take pictures of any damage to send to your insurance company.
These guidelines are essential for your family to weather the storm. If you have a generator, before you omit completing any of these tips or preparations, verify that the generator is powerful enough to supply your entire house with power. Also, ensure that the generator receives the proper maintenance to be effective before a hurricane. No matter what your situation, acquire supplies for you and your family for at least a week or two to prepare for the most severe circumstances, and remember, the hurricane season may be half way over, but the most tumultuous and destructive time of the season for the Gulf Coast has just begun!