Active hurricane season predicted
The Atlantic basin – which includes Port Aransas – is expected to see more named storms this coming hurricane season than in most years, but our town is more prepared than ever to deal with the possibility, according to Mayor Keith McMullin.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration ( NOAA) Climate Prediction Center on May 19 issued a seasonal outlook with the following predictions for the season, which runs from June 1 to the end of November:
• Twelve to 18 named storms. (Storms get names when they have winds 39 mph or higher.)
• Six to 10 of the named storms “could become” hurricanes. (Storms become hurricanes when they have winds of 74 mph or more.)
• Three to six major hurricanes are likely to develop. (That means hurricanes with winds of 111 mph or more.)
Each of these ranges has a 70 percent likelihood and indicate that activity will exceed the seasonal average of 11 named storms, six hurricanes and two major hurricanes, according to a news release issued by NOAA.
The release quoted Jane Lubchenco, under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator.
“The United States was fortunate last year,” Lubchenco said. “Winds steered most of the season’s tropical storms and all hurricanes away from our coastlines. However, we can’t count on luck to get us through this season. We need to be prepared, especially with this above-normal outlook.”
Hurricane Bret was the last major hurricane to strike anywhere in the Coastal Bend, making landfall in Kenedy County, just south of Kingsville, in 1999.
The last major hurricane to directly hit Port Aransas was Hurricane Celia, in 1970.
McMullin said Port Aransans must remain vigilant, keeping their eyes on the tropics throughout hurricane season.
“I feel like you can never be as prepared as you’d like to be for a calamity,” McMullin said. “But I think we are better-equipped to handle it than we have been previously. It’s a major focus for me and for everybody at city hall.”
One reason Port Aransas is perhaps better prepared than in previous years lies in the fact that that Hurricane Alex gave our town a scare in late June last year.
Alex eventually moved into Mexico, but the storm for a time looked as if it could make it to Port Aransas, prompting McMullin, Police Chief Scott Burroughs and then-new City Manager Robert Bradshaw to prepare together for a possible local landfall. That sharpened everyone’s skills and their working relationships where hurricane preparedness is concerned, the mayor said.
McMullin has increased his own preparedness by spending a week at the National Hurricane
Center in January. He was one of only five Texans who were accepted for instruction in a hurricane preparedness course at the Florida facility.
“I feel like I made some connections there and learned quite a bit that will help us interpret the news they disseminate when and if a storm is out there,” McMullin said.
The Port Aransas City Council in March hired a consultant, Randy Sijansky, to conduct a study to assess how ready the town is to handle a hurricane.
Sijansky, whose study is underway, retired last year from his job as emergency management coordinator for the city of Corpus Christi. He previously was a regional liaison officer with the Texas Division of Emergency Management.
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