“Watching” for 2011 Hurricanes along the Texas Gulf Coast

1 06 2011

Well, it is June 1st, start of the Hurricane Season; and seemingly on cue, Tropical Disturbance 5 is now traveling westward and forecasts say it might bring the risk of heavy showers and thunderstorms to Texas.  We do need the rain, so the showers would be welcome, but I always think that wishing for tropical disturbances might be a bit risky.  But, for now, we will wait and see what happens.

And this is what many Emergency Managers along the Gulf Coast will be doing for the next six months—watching disturbances hundreds and hundreds of miles away from our area.  It is necessary to keep watch—- it takes a long time to prepare our jurisdictions for the arrival of a hurricane or tropical storm.  And to make sure we are effective, it is important that we begin following the track as soon as forecasters say it might be a threat to our area.

So, for the next six months, there will be lots of starts and stops; and starts and stops.  Some storms will turn up into the Atlantic and not harm a soul; and others will travel to the Eastern Seaboard.  Still others will curve up into the northeastern Gulf of Mexico and land in Florida or Alabama; others will stay South and visit Mexico; and sometimes, the hurricane will vanish and disappear and not make landfall anywhere.  This is what happened last year.  The year 2010 was very active hurricane season, but no hurricanes made landfall in the United States.

But, nevertheless, Emergency Managers in Texas will be watching the Atlantic and the Caribbean and the Gulf for that one storm that might choose to travel our direction.  And, the citizens of our jurisdictions and counties can rest assured that Emergency Managers working in both the public and private sector are watching, and preparing, and getting ready to respond.  And even if it turns out to be a false alarm, the Emergency Managers know that they did not waste time— they got better prepared, probably learned a couple of new lessons for their efforts, and will be ready to “watch” some more.

So, what are the names of the storms we will be “watching” this year?  The National Hurricane Center has released its pre-approved listing of hurricane names for the Atlantic this year.  The list has been formed by the Center since 1953.  When first generated, the lists consisted of only female names; however, since 1979 the lists alternated between male and female names.  Actually, there are six lists that rotate continuously— containing hurricane names from “A to W;” but excluding “Q” and “U.”  Names on the list only change when a hurricane is very severe and damaging; when that happens, the name is retired and another name replaces it.

So for this year, the names will be:

Arlene, Bret, Cindy, Don, Emily, Franklin, Gert, Harvey, Irene, Jose, Katia, Lee, Maria, Nate, Ophelia, Philippe, Rina, Sean, Tammy, Vince, Whitney

There are normally less than 21 named tropical storms in any calendar year.  In the rare years when more than 21 storms are named, the additional storms are given names from the Greek alphabet; such as Alpha, Beta, Gamma, and Delta.



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