Donâ€™t tell Beryl and Alberto that the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season begins today. The two named tropical storms made their grand entrance in the Atlantic last month well ahead of the official start of the season, marking the first time for such an occurrence since 1908. Alberto formed off the South Carolina Coast and Beryl made landfall in Florida, bringing drenching rains and driving winds with her.
Even with two storms already in the books, a research team at Colorado State University has predicted reduced hurricane and storm activity for the 2012 season. They have predicted a â€œbelow-average probabilityâ€ for major hurricanes making landfall along the United States coastline and in the Caribbean. However, they warn that whether one hurricane or a dozen, the public should prepare the same way every season because â€œit only takes one hurricane making landfall to make it an active seasonâ€ for coastal residents.
That is particularly true in Texas, where some Texans are still cleaning up from Hurricane Ike, which in 2008 became the second most costly hurricane to make landfall in the United States. It made landfall near Galveston as a Category 2 hurricane. More than 100 people were killed in Texas by the hurricane that at one point measured 600 miles in diameter. Damages totaled $29.5 billion, second only to the $108 billion caused by 2005â€™s devastating Hurricane Katrina.
The longtime hurricane researchers at Colorado State predict that during the 2012 hurricane season, there will be 10 named storms and four hurricanes, with two of them major hurricanes. They predict that there is a 42 percent probability that at least one major (category 3, 4 or 5) hurricane will make landfall somewhere along the United State coastline, a 24 percent probability of landfall along the East Coast and including the Florida peninsula and a 24 percent probability of landfall somewhere in the Gulf Coast area from the Florida Panhandle west to Brownsville.
Federal, state and local officials have been preparing for this yearâ€™s hurricane season. National Hurricane Preparedness Week activities nationwide culminate Saturday, as emergency management teams have been involved in weeklong activities to elevate the publicâ€™s awareness of what do before, during and after a hurricane.
In Texas, the Texas Division of Emergency Management, Texas Department of Public Safety and the National Weather Service join together to encourage local entities and the public to make plans for the possibility of storms in their areas. In April, the 2012 Texas Emergency Management Conference was held in San Antonio, with workshops, presentations, training classes and exhibits and a time, according to Texas Division of Emergency Management Chief Nim Kidd â€œto revisit our planning efforts for the upcoming hurricane season.â€ Kidd said the conference allowed for state and local officials to â€œlearn from the past, plan for the future and ensure we are all working together to protect our communities.â€
Earlier this week, President Barack Obama was briefed on federal preparations for the hurricane season and steps the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and its federal partners have already taken toward efforts to coordinate activities with state and local partners in areas that might be in the path of hurricanes.
In the event of a hurricane, federal agencies work closely with state and local governments, faith-based organizations, nonprofits and the private sector. The private sector becomes an important partner with government entities when damages and displacements result from hurricanes, providing everything from health care and food service to temporary housing and debris cleanup and removal. Most private sector vendors let their public sector partners know well ahead of storm season what products and/or services they can make available in short order in the event of a disaster.
Hurricane season will run through Nov, 30. Even with a prediction of a less active season than last year, when there were 19 storms and seven hurricanes, the two pre-season storms have emergency officials a little wary. Some officials are wondering if conditions might not be favorable for a rash of tropical storms that can cause a little rain in some areas or cause damages like those from Ike that have affected communities still rebuilding three years later.