It seems the storms of late spring have barely subsided, but now Texans along the Gulf Coast must brace themselves for the possibility of another threat – hurricanes. Hurricane season is officially June 1 through November 30, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, but the peak season is August and September. This year, NOAA is predicting what could be the busiest tropical storm/hurricane season since 2012. 

For 2016, NOAA is forecasting a 70 percent chance of between 10 and 16 named tropical storms (those with winds 39 mph or higher). Of these NOAA further projects that 4 to 8 of these storms could develop into hurricanes (with winds 74 mph or higher) and 1 to 4 of these storms likely developing into major hurricanes (with winds of 111 mph or higher). 

Forecasters say the past 3 years actually produced fewer than normal tropical storms and hurricanes. 

“This is a more challenging hurricane season outlook than most because it’s difficult to determine whether there will be reinforcing or competing climate influences on tropical storm development,” said Gerry Bell, lead seasonal hurricane forecaster with NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center. "However, a near-normal prediction for this season suggests we could see more hurricane activity than we’ve seen in the last three years, which were below normal.” 

While El Niño drenched Texas from late spring 2015 through late spring 2016, those conditions are expected to dissipate over the coming months.

NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center is forecasting a 70 percent chance that La Niña — which favors more hurricane activity — will be present during the peak months of hurricane season, August through October. However, current model predictions show uncertainty as to how strong La Niña and its impacts will be. 

“While seasonal forecasts may vary from year to year — some high, some low — it only takes one storm to significantly disrupt your life,” stated Federal Emergency Management Association Deputy Administrator Joseph Nimmich. “Preparing for the worst can keep you, your family, and first responders out of harm’s way. Take steps today to be prepared: develop a family communications plan, build an emergency supply kit for your home, and make sure you and your family know your evacuation route. These small steps can help save your life when disaster strikes.”

To be prepared, ready.gov, the website of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, recommends the following steps:

Know where to go. If you have to evacuate, be aware of what routes to take and where you can stay. Contact your local emergency management agency for more information.

  •  Have a disaster supply kit ready, with a flashlight, batteries, cash, first aid items and copies of important information.
  •  If you are not ordered to evacuate and decide to stay, make sure you have supplies for several days in case you lose water and/or power.
  •  Make a family emergency communication plan. For information, go here.  
  •  Find out in advance what alerts are available for your area via an Internet search with the name of your city, town or county and “alerts.”    

Texasprepares.org has more specifics on items that should be included in your disaster kit, such as  3-day supply of food that needs no cooking, 1 gallon of water per day per person, a manual can opener and items for babies/children as well as pets. The website also suggests specific medical/hygiene items, a battery powered radio with extra batteries or a hand crank radio. The website recommends that you make sure your car gas tank is full and that you have a spare tire for your car. For more tips on what to include in your emergency kit, visit here.

More information on preparing for hurricanes, including how to prepare your home and what to do when a hurricane is just hours from arriving is located at https://www.ready.gov/hurricanes.