Ready, Set, Prep - 2016 Hurricane Season
Why is this year so unusual?
Several factors make the 2016 hurricane season different, especially around Houston:
- Even before the official start of the hurricane season, severe, slow-moving storms caused rivers in southeastern Texas to swell to record highs. This has resulted in heavy flooding in the Houston area. With more storms continuing, these rivers have not reached their peak surges, so there is potential for even more flooding.
- The past 3 years have seen below-average hurricane activity. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicts that the most likely scenario this year is near-normal activity, meaning more storms than we have seen in a while. This is typical when moving from an El Niño to a La Niña year.
- On the other hand, this is an especially difficult year to predict hurricanes. An alternative—although less likely—scenario that NOAA is considering is another below-average year. As NOAA explains, the lower activity in past years is possibly indicating an end to a high-activity era that began in 1995. If this is the case, the trend of recent years will continue in spite of La Niña.
Adding to the unpredictability is a growing mass of cold water known as a “cold blob” that is located in the northern Atlantic Ocean. According to Accuweather.com, it too, can offset the effects of a La Niña year.
If currents move the cold blob southward and then toward tropical waters where hurricanes originate, cooling water temperatures could limit the formation of tropical storms. The cold blob could also cool water temperatures by changing deep ocean currents and thus water salinity. If neither activity takes place, tropical waters will remain warmer and more conducive to storm production.
How will these factors affect your community?
With the ongoing threat of flooding in Houston, hurricanes or even tropical storms will only add to existing problems. The 2016 CoreLogic Storm Surge Report lists Houston as #7 among metropolitan areas at risk from storm surges. The report reveals that 280,112 homes could potentially be affected by hurricanes this year. The estimated reconstruction value cost (RCV) could total more than $260 million.
Normal hurricane activity means that one to four major hurricanes (with winds of 111 mph or more) are likely. But a hurricane doesn’t have to be major to cause devastating damage. Hurricane Sandy was not in the most severe category, yet it caused incredible destruction. As vulnerable as Houston is, your community must be prepared even in the event of a lesser storm.
What can you do before a hurricane strikes?
Although you can’t predict the severity of this year’s hurricane season, you can have everything in place so that you’ll be ready. The best way to prepare is to tailor a disaster response plan to your community that includes:
- Safe escape routes for residents
- Preservation of the association’s digital assets
- A source of electricity for critical areas
- Establishment of vendor contracts to help with prep, clean up, and repairs
- Insurance considerations
We all hope that the 2016 hurricane season will be relatively uneventful. However, if a hurricane does strike, being prepared will make a big difference in minimizing the impact. Get your community ready today by contacting FirstService Residential, Houston’s leading HOA management company.