After living and forecasting weather in the Coastal Bend for over thirty-five years now, there is one dominant theme in every hurricane season that I have been a part of since 1981.
Nearly all of the storms that have made a direct hit here were weak and did little to no damage, while the ones that were destructive hurricanes hit elsewhere on the Texas coast and had little to no impact on us. Residents that live in the Coastal Bend continue to be extremely lucky when it comes to hurricane activity.
In the midst of the escalating global warming/climate change controversy, the previous 25 years (excluding the last five years), have been more active than any other 25-year period, going back to 1886, yet it continues to be mainly quiet here once again.
There were no tropical storms in the western Gulf last year (2016) and the Coastal Bend was once again extremely fortunate in 2016.
The 2016 hurricane season ended above below normal with a total of 15 named storms of which 7 were hurricanes and there were 3 major hurricanes. There have only been 33 seasons with no major hurricanes (the ones that do the most damage and result in the greatest loss of life) since 1851.
It should be noted that most of the main hurricane seasonal forecasts for last year were on target and generally met expectations. While there were three major category three or higher hurricanes last year, it has now been over 10 years since a major hurricane has made landfall in the United States, that being Wilma in 2005.
While it was quiet last year for the Texas coast, there were three storms that really stood out. Hurricane Matthew was the first Category 5 in the Atlantic Basin since 2007. Alex was only the 2nd hurricane to ever form in the Atlantic Basin in January and the 1st since 1955. Finally, Otto was the latest hurricane to make landfall (November 24th) in any calendar year on record in the Atlantic Basin.
It should also be noted that the first storm of the 2017 hurricane season occurred in April and the name was Arlene.
The Colorado State Forecast team led by Dr. Phil Klotzbach is predicting a slightly above normal 2017 hurricane season. Their June 1st forecast for this year is largely based on the premise that a weak El Niño will form around mid-season and slow down tropical development.
This combined with cooler than normal sea surface temperatures in the North Atlantic Ocean will likely make this season slightly less active than last year. The team predicts 14 named storms with 6 expected to become hurricanes, and of those, 2 developing into major hurricanes.
A major hurricane is a category 3, 4, or 5 on the Saffir-Simpson Scale, with sustained winds of 111 mph or greater. The long-term averages are 12 named storms, 6 hurricanes and 2 major hurricanes per year.
It is always important to remember that no matter how many or how few storms we have, it only takes one storm making landfall here to cause a huge problem for us and make our season here in the Coastal Bend very active.
Dr. Bill Gray the father of hurricane seasonal forecasting and one of the world’s leading authorities on the relationship between "global warming" and hurricane seasonal activity sadly passed away earlier this year.
Dr. Gray did not attribute changes in recent and projected Atlantic hurricane activity to human-induced global warming. Gray has stated that "although global surface temperatures have increased over the last 30 years, there is no reliable data available to indicate increased hurricane frequency or intensity in any of the globe’s seven tropical cyclone basins, except for the Atlantic over the last 15 years."
There is no scientific study of tropical cyclones that has a valid physical theory as to why hurricane intensity and frequency would necessarily be altered significantly by small amounts of global mean temperature change. Dr. Gray also expects us to be in a period of above-average hurricane activity overall for the next 10 to 15 years.
As we prepare for this hurricane season, please keep in mind that no one really knows when a storm will form or where it will go before it develops. It is so very important to be prepared and have a family plan of action.
You have already taken the first step by coming to our website to check out this hurricane guide. Being informed and having a plan will help you decide whether to stay or leave, and keep you from getting caught in the middle, like so many people did in Celia in 1970, Allen in 1980, Gilbert in 1988, Bret in 1999, and Rita in 2005.
Experience is not a good teacher when it comes to hurricanes because all storms are different. Perhaps that is why they are given names and seem to take on their own unique personality like people.
This is why KRIS 6 Communications has put together the most comprehensive hurricane awareness guide available anywhere in South Texas. You and your family should spend some time becoming familiar with all of the information in this year’s guide.
Rest assured that when the tropics become active, you can watch KRIS 6 News, KDF, and the CW for the most accurate information on where the storm is, where it is going, how confident we are it will hit, and most importantly, the steps you and your family should be taking.
It is always important to get the facts and not listen to rumors. While away from your TV you can log on to our website, ‘like’ us on Facebook page KRIS 6 News, or follow us on Twitter @KRIS6News. If you and your family have a plan of action then we will all be a lot safer when the threat of a hurricane eventually becomes a reality, and remember, don’t be scared, be prepared!