Hurricane season has officially started.
It runs from June 1 to Nov. 30 in the Atlantic Basin, which includes the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico.
“That seems to be the consensus among everybody. The reality is that we have an El Niño developing in the Pacific that usually works against hurricanes. So that’s good news. But the bad news is that the Atlantic Ocean/Caribbean/Gulf of Mexico water temperatures are all extremely warm and that helps hurricanes,” Lanza said. “So we can have this battle setting up between the unfavorable El Niño and the favorable warm water.”
Lanza said over time trends show climate change making hurricane seasons more intense, but it is hard to point to global warming as the primary factor in the seasonal forecast.
“I’ve looked recently at a lot of the research that’s come out on what climate change evolution is going to mean for Gulf of Mexico storms. And quite frankly, it’s not great news. There’s a lot of research that’s pointing to the Gulf becoming warmer, more hospitable to hurricanes,” he said. “When you’re talking climate change, you’re looking 50 years out in the future. So you’re not going to see that tomorrow necessarily. But I think the last couple of years where we’ve had a large storm in the Gulf almost every year, you know, it kind of is a little bit of a of a wake up call for a lot of people to realize that we live in a place that’s going to be dealing with this for a while.”
Lanza said his team recently launched a new site, The Eyewall, to help people throughout the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico regions understand weather patterns that affect them.
“We are going to be focusing on hurricanes not just for Texas, but for the entire Atlantic Basin. So New England, Atlantic Canada, the Caribbean and parts of South Texas,” he said. “So if you live in Brownsville or Corpus Christi or Beaumont, you can check us out for information on hurricane season. And basically, we want to give the same idea of just being real about the weather and being straightforward and not (over hype) the weather.”
Lanza said there are steps everyone can take to prepare for the season, in the coastal region and beyond.
“If you live on the coast anywhere in Texas, obviously know if you’re in an evacuation zone and then once you find out if you are, have a plan,” he said. “Have a plan to get out, know where you’re going to go, know how you’re going to handle things like pets, child care, work, important documents to take with you if you have to evacuate. Because remember, you’re going to be leaving kind of in a huff when these storms hit. So you need to be prepared now so that when the time comes, it’s not as frenetic.”
It’s also worth having a few weeks of supplies stocked up in case of power outages, he said.
For those who live inland, it is still worth being aware of storms, Lanza said.
“Be aware of flooding risks because that’s the primary risk from hurricanes in inland Texas. Obviously, we saw that with Harvey. Big storms, even smaller storms sometimes, can produce flooding. So you need to pay attention to what the forecasts are during hurricane season,” he said. “Just check in every couple of days, make sure everything is stable. And just be aware and be prepared.”