Busy hurricane season predicted

hurricane.jpgThe National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration issued its annual storm forecast yesterday, and the NOAA is predicting from 12 to 15 tropical storms during this upcoming hurricane season (June through November). Or, as Fark translates, “We have no clue how many hurricanes there will be, so we say ‘a lot’ to keep our asses covered.”
At any rate, the NOAA predicts that seven to nine of the storms could become hurricanes, and that three to five of those could become major hurricanes, which are defined as category 3 (winds of between 111-130 mph; here is a hurricane category chart) or above. Nine hurricanes developed during the hurricane season last year and four of those hammered Florida over a 40 day period.
Public officials along the upper Texas Gulf Coast are particularly concerned with the NOAA’s forecast because the Houston area has not been directly hit with a hurricane since Hurricane Alicia, which was a category 3 storm in 1983. The eye of that storm came in on West Beach on Galveston Island and then essentially followed a path along I-45 through downtown Houston and beyond. The damage to the area was incredible, and left thousands of Houstonians without power for weeks. As bad as Alicia was, however, oldtimers in Houston contend that it was nothing compared to the destruction that was caused on September 11, 1961 by Hurricane Carla, which was a category 4 (winds of 133-155 mph) storm that had the same minimum barometric pressure as the great 1900 storm that killed over 6,000 people in Galveston.
Finally, this series of Houston Chronicle articles earlier this year revealed that many state and local public officials do not believe that they safely evacuate all coastal residents on the upper Texas coast in the event of a Category 4 or 5 hurricane. Not a comforting thought as we head into an active hurricane season at a time when the Houston area is long overdue to take a direct hit from a storm.

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