It’s that time of year again. June has arrived and with it comes another dreaded Hurricane season and all the fear and anxiety that return with the summer months. The Texas Gulf Coast, no stranger to major weather disturbances, is preparing for yet another several months of monitoring and watching water temperatures, air currents, and seed storms off the western coast of Africa.
By all accounts the 2023 season, as predicted by national meteorological services, scientific agencies, and noted hurricane experts, is not looking too terribly threatening. However, all are describing the 2023 season as “challenging.”
There are essentially two factors that will determine the severity of this year’s storm season. The development of an El Nino pattern and warm water temperatures will play critical roles in the development and seriousness of the summer’s storm activity.
After careful monitoring, an El Nino pattern has developed and continues to strengthen. During past years having a strong El Nino, hurricane development and activity has been somewhat lower than during La Nina patterns. These patterns indicate the direction and intensity of the Atlantic air currents that feed the storm systems.
Water temperature is another important factor in the storm development equation. All agencies and authorities have noted well-above-average water temperatures in the Atlantic Basin, which could lead to larger and stronger storms.
Tropical Storm Risk (TSR) predicts a slightly below average with 13 named storms, six hurricanes, and three of them becoming major hurricanes. University of Arizona (UA) predicts 19 named storms, nine hurricanes, and five major hurricanes. Colorado State University (CSU) predicts 13 named storms, six hurricanes, and two major hurricanes. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicts a strong season with 14 named storms, seven hurricanes, and three major hurricanes.
The National Hurricane Center (NHC) predicts a 64 percent chance of El Nino development that could thwart hurricane activity in late summer and early fall. Starting this year, NHC will be issuing seven-day forecasts rather than the two-day forecasts provided in the past. The NHC will continue to create and monitor the “cones” and computer models for each storm as they develop.
Once again, the name game is here. Continuing to get creative and inclusive, the 2023 storm names are Arlene, Bret, Cindy, Don, Emily, Franklin, Gert, Harold, Idalia, Jose, Katia, Lee, Margot, Nigel, Ophelia, Philipe, Rina, Sean, Tammy, Vince, and Whitney. Each year the list gets a bit “stranger” when it comes to the names. Everyone recognizes the names, and some conjure thoughts about a person with the same name, their personality, and what type of storm one might expect. Have fun with that one.
Lastly, it is time to practice the old Boy Scout motto: “Be prepared!” One can never plan and prepare too much for hurricane season. Just about everyone along the Gulf has been caught ill-prepared or lacking in essential items needed should a storm strike. Food, water, and shelter are critical components in getting through a storm. Stocking up on non-perishable food items, especially those ready to eat or requiring little preparation, is key to making sure there is food for consumption during and after a storm. Canned goods, packaged foods, nuts and trail mixes, nutrition bars, and dried foods are excellent to have on hand.
Water is, of course, a great concern. Now is the time to start filling used two-liter jugs and empty containers. Used and empty bottles filled with frozen water can extend the life of a non-working freezer or ice chest.
Make sure to have on-hand batteries, hygiene supplies, ample medications, a first aid kit, flashlights, candles, toilet paper, and stored gasoline. Take a few minutes to inventory your supplies and readiness. Once a storm is on the way and a hit is predicted, it is too late — stores and restaurants are closed, gas station tanks are empty and escape can be a monumental task. Have an evacuation plan and a safe destination.
Lastly, make considerations for all pets and animals that you are responsible for — and maybe even some strays that you aren’t. Store pet food supplies and again, stock enough fresh water for all.
Even though a milder but more challenging season has been predicted, we all know things can change and fast. It pays to be prepared for whatever might come.
Hunker down, plan ahead, be safe, and be ready for the 2023 storm season.