No Time to let your Guard Down

The second month of the 2009 hurricane season is almost gone. Forecasters say the slow start doesn't necessarily mean a weak overall season. They point to one big factor in the lull, but they add it's a good time for residents to make sure they have a plan...just in case. Pat Hernandez has more.

Forecasters know that when it comes to hurricane season, anything is possible. The Atlantic basin has not gone this deep into hurricane season without a named storm in five years.

Richard Pasch:  "Just harken back just five years ago, we didn't have any storm through the month of July, and it turned out to be apretty bad season."

Richard Pasch is the senior hurricane specialist with the National Hurricane Center in Miami. He says the 2004 season didn't see its first storm until Hurricane Alex began to develop the end of July.

"Right...I'm not gonna say this year's gonna be like, that but there's not really a good correlation between the early season activity in June and July and what happens later on. The peak of the hurricane season is still ahead of us, historically."

The onset of El Nino in the Pacific Ocean tends to suppress storm activity. Pasch says even so, such years can still produce savage storms.

"Right now, it's been quiet out there and I just want to warn people that even a very quiet year, we can have a destructive storm like an Andrew in 1992, a near average year which was what the last seasonal forecast was."

Lance Woods is with the National Weather Service in League City. Given this season's slow start and the onset of El Nino, he thinks about  ten named storms could form, which is one of the lowest totals of the past 15-years.

"That's correct. There's been several seasons where we haven't had any named storms until August. I don't think we'll see the kind of activity we saw in 2004. It got off to a late start, but we still had alot of storms in 2004. We probably won't see that many storms this year."  

July storms often form in the Caribbean, but he says factors like wind shear creat hostile conditions for them.

"Even in below normal seasons, the gulf coast typically has a pretty good chance of at least one landfall. So yeah, we have to be real careful here along the gulf that we don't get too hung up on the number of storms."

There may be fewer storms during an El Nino, but Woods says it only takes one.

"We like to tell people to make sure you have a plan, so that if something happens quickly, you've already thought through what you might do. You know, whether or not you'd evacuate. If you did evacuate, who would you notify? what would you bring with you?—those kind of things."

For a list of supplies to have during hurricane season, you can go to www.houstonredcross.org or another website at www.chiff.com/a/hurricane-tips.htm, and click "hurricane checklist" at the bottom of the page.

Pat Hernandez, KUHF-Houston Public Radio News.

Bio photo of Pat Hernandez

Pat Hernandez

Reporter

Pat Hernandez is a general assignments reporter who joined the KUHF news staff in February of 2008...