Port Aransas city government is prepared to deal with a hurricane, if one hits, a town official said as federal authorities warned that the newly begun season will be more active than normal.
“We’ve taken the same plan (and) we’ve pretty much improved on (it) since the last hurricane,” said Port Aransas Emergency Management Director Rick Adams, referring to Harvey, which struck in August 2017. “We took the lessons learned and have adjusted.”
Preparing for better communication after a hurricane has been “probably our biggest take-away and improvement,” he said.
On paper, the city’s post-hurricane communication plan looked good, but the reality was that it wasn’t perfect, Adams said.
“With satellite phones, you don’t anticipate that cloud cover and other meteorological events can actually take away from the devices you had anticipated were fail-safe,” he said. “So, we’ve added some additional equipment and, in coordination with the county and the state … we merged some of their communications resources … that we’ve tested and feel are more resilient.”
City officials also have figured out better ways to go about “managing the debris contractors,” Adams said.
Then there’s the issue of protecting city assets. A number of city vehicles, including a high-dollar fire truck, were ruined by Harvey. The city did, at the time, have a plan before the hurricane to get city vehicles out of town to keep them safe from a storm, Adams said.
“The problem was implementation and execution,” he said.
“We will just make it a priority that we will execute,” Adams said. “… We will do a better job of delegating and monitoring those plans.”
On Tuesday, May 24, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) released its Atlantic Hurricane Season Outlook, which said the 2022 season is expected to be “above-normal.” The season runs from June 1 to Nov. 30.
The outlook said there’s a 65 percent chance of an above-normal season, a 25 percent chance of a near-normal season and a 10 percent chance of a below-normal season.
Anticipated are 14 to 21 named storms, six to 10 hurricanes and three to six major hurricanes.
NOAA provides the ranges with 70 percent confidence, the news release said.
“Keep in mind that the seasonal forecast is not a forecast for if or where systems will make landfall,” the release said. “It is only a forecast for how active a season might be.”
If this season does end up being more active than average, it will be the seventh consecutive season that will be above-average.
The increased activity anticipated for the season comes as a result of several climate factors.
Those include the ongoing La Niña, a climate pattern that results in less wind shear across the tropical Atlantic, as well as above-normal sea surface temperature, which are favorable for tropical storms and hurricanes to form.
The names to be given this year to Atlantic tropical cyclones, in order, will be Alex, Bonnie, Colin, Danielle, Earl, Fiona, Gaston, Hermine, Ian, Julia, Karl, Lisa, Martin, Nicole, Owen, Paula, Richard, Shary, Tobias, Virginie and Walter.
Regarding hurricane season, Adams said his advice for the community is this: “Just pay attention and don’t take it lightly.”
Information on hurricane preparation, evacuation routes, shelter supplies and more is in the South Jetty’s 16-page Hurricane Readiness Guide, published in the newspaper’s May 12 edition. It remains available, free, at Port Aransas convenience stores, the Family Center IGA and other locations.