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Are you prepared for the Tropical Terrorist? - The Galveston County Daily News : Storm Season

September 1, 2014

Guest column Are you prepared for the Tropical Terrorist?

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Posted: Tuesday, May 28, 2013 4:29 pm

Ask yourself seriously: Are you really prepared right now, this minute, if a tropical cyclone formed about 300 miles off our Texas Coast and was forecast to make landfall here in Galveston County within 30 hours or so? 

OK ... what about 96 hours? Now is the time to be ready, as the 2013 Tropical Atlantic Basin Hurricane Season is here.  

Starting every June 1, we are on watch for the possibility of a hurricane landfall for the next six months ... until November 30. We are seriously lucky that it is such a rare force of nature, because as you know, even a tropical storm can be bad news, and a Cat 1 hurricane is not just some big thunderstorm, but such a monster that you have to experience to understand.

Those that have had to ride out the eyewall of any category hurricane understand what I mean. Yes, we are very lucky that they are so rare, because when they are tracking your way, there is nothing more dangerous than having what I call a “Tropical Terrorist” heading in your direction. If you don’t think they strike terror, then pay attention when a major hurricane, aka a “Tropical Terrorist,” watch is posted and see how everyone reacts.

The time is now to get prepared, and if you do it, and have your kit, and plan ready, you will be ahead of the curve. If you decide to evacuate, you can do so ahead of the masses and get to your safe haven well ahead of the crowds on the road. Remember it’s smart to be proactive rather than just reactive.

Why do I say they are rare ... the latest count of hurricanes that have made a landfall here in Texas since 1851 is 63, which averages about 2.55 years.

Major hurricanes, or Tropical Terrorists, have made a Texas landfall 19 times since 1851, which averages 13.42 years.

 The last hurricane to make a Texas landfall was back in 2008 when Dolly made landfall well south of us. 

The last Cat 2 hurricane was Hurricane Ike, which hit us hard in 2008 as well, five years ago. 

The last major hurricane to make a Texas landfall was Hurricane Rita, almost eight years ago. We are blessed that Cat 4 hurricanes are so rare in Texas. Anyone who can remember 1961’s Hurricane Carla making landfall near Port Lavaca knows it can turn a city and region into a war zone in a few hours time.

Carla was the last time our state had a Cat 4 hurricane landfall. Remember, every season is different as well as every storm. Back in 1886, our state had four hurricane landfalls, so don’t play the odds with a hurricane. Records always seem to be broken.

I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, “Run from water — hunker down from wind.” The only problem with that is that you need to make sure your safe haven is built to the proper building codes. Many structures may seem safe, but under the forces from a hurricane, the structure may fail.

Before you decide, check out this website from FLASH, www.flash.org/peril_

hurricanes.php. Don’t be trapped in an unsafe haven. 

Also check your safe haven’s elevation in case of impact from storm surge and flooding.   In closing, I have attached a storm surge inundulation map to better show the possible depths of salt water over parts of our county.