It was a tense weekend that just passed. Galveston County held its breath as Tropical Storm Hanna rocked and rolled in the Caribbean, putting us all on high alert, if only for a little while.
Of course, by the time the storm puffed up and made landfall as a category 2 hurricane, Hanna had moved pretty far south of us, leaving us with some rough waters and strong winds but no death or damage. And we all breathed a sigh of relief.
Newscasters late last week were calling Hanna a “preview” of the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season, which runs, as always, from June 1 to Oct. 31.
If we skate by the remainder of the season with nothing more drastic than Hanna, it would be a stroke of meteorological luck. But chances are pretty good that we won’t.
Some models published in advance of the start of the season are predicting higher tropical cyclone activity than in 2019. One forecast predicted there would be between 15 and 24 named storms in the Atlantic this year.
Last year, the hurricane season produced 18 named storms. Of those, six became hurricanes and three became major hurricanes.
In Texas, the most significant storm of 2019 was Tropical Storm Imelda, which made landfall southwest of Galveston on Sept. 17, just two hours after it was officially named. The worst of the storm missed Galveston County but caused devastating flooding over three days in an area between Houston and Beaumont. The last storm to severely affect Galveston County was Hurricane Harvey, which flooded tens of thousands of homes in August 2017 after making landfall south of the county.
There’s always something brewing in the Caribbean, and we never know what it could stir up.
What we do know is that we have to be prepared. And many of us are. Although our Question of the Week survey for this week has only been open for a few days, the responses are encouraging. Seventy percent of those who responded so far said they “have a well thought out plan for all contingencies, including keeping the car gassed up, stocked and ready to go, along with a plan of where to go, etc.”
Twenty-five percent said they are “stocked up on essentials to keep at home to ride out any bad weather.” And 5 percent said they “pack essentials to keep in the car in case I have to leave.”
We’re happy to see that no one has yet chosen the “do nothing other than pray and/or hope for the best” response.
So how about you? Had Hanna turned deadly and roared into our laps here in Galveston County — leaving us with flooding and without power or easy access to food and water or possibly forcing mass evacuations — would you have been ready?
If not, or if you aren’t sure, now is the time to solidify your plans. What to do? Ask Google. Ask your friends. Ask your coworkers. For hurricane preparation assistance with a highly localized touch, check out The Daily News’ 2020 Hurricane Preparedness Guide. It was inserted into the May 29 edition of the paper. Or you can find it online at tinyurl.com/y424yvgm.
Everything is different in this age of the coronavirus, but we can’t let COVID-19 take our attention away from other important issues, especially hurricane preparedness. We’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: Please don’t let one crisis leave you unprepared for the next.
• Margaret Battistelli Gardner