New Homeowners in Texas Hurricane Preparedness Guide
The migration to Texas has been in the news lately; more than 700,000 people moved to Texas in 2021 and the surge continues.1 That means a lot of people will be experiencing the Atlantic hurricane season for the first time. It’s a good thing plenty of hurricane veterans are around to give the “heads up.” While The Matthews Team will give you some basics, local government agencies have well-prepared hurricane guides online.
Hurricane Preparedness Weather Term Glossary
Hurricanes develop in the South Atlantic off the coast of Africa. Warm air and warm water combine to create storms with a strong circular pattern. Significant storms will see the winds organize in motion to create a central eye. Often the eye will be well defined, with a visible eyewall; the central eye will be relatively calm.
The Atlantic Ocean is wide and when the summer keeps both air and ocean water warm, the organized storm gathers energy, that drives wind speed, and moisture, which adds diameter/size. An interesting fact—the rotation of the earth contributes to the organization of wind on the open ocean. Meteorologists rate the storms by measuring wind speed.
- Organized storms with wind speed up to 38 mph are called tropical depressions
- Organized storms with wind speeds between 39 and 73 mph are called tropical storms. Tropical storms and hurricanes are named
- Organized storms with wind speeds above 73 mph are considered hurricanes
- Category 1 hurricanes have wind speeds between 74 and 95 mph
- Category 2 hurricanes have wind speeds between 96 and 110 mph
- Category 3 hurricanes have wind speeds between 111 and 128 mph
- Category 4 hurricanes have wind speeds between 129 and 156 mph
- Category 5 hurricanes have wind speeds above 157
As the storm approaches, forecasters will try to predict where it will go and when it will make landfall; a watch will be issued for a broad area, meaning landfall is possible, but a warning will be issued about 36 hours to a narrow area of coastline.
The local population has 36 hours to prepare for the storm. While this might not sound like much time, it saves thousands of lives each year. Historically, hurricanes have killed thousands when they arrive with little or no warning.
The danger and damage from hurricanes include:
- Storm surge. As the storm approaches land, it pushes the waves much higher than normal. This can cause severe flooding along the immediate coast.
- Heavy rainfall. A thunderstorm might drop 1 or 2 inches of rain in an hour. Hurricanes commonly drop 16 to 30 inches of rain in a 24-hour period. This will result in localized flooding.
- High winds. Expect hurricane-force winds to down trees and power lines, resulting in widespread power outages. Most windows cannot withstand +110 mph winds. Not only will the wind remove roofs and damage buildings, and anything that is not secured will become projectiles.
Develop Your Hurricane Preparedness Plan!
Should you stay or should you go? You will develop a plan for each storm that approaches your home. Several Hurricane Preparedness factors will aid you in your decision, including your family, past experiences with emergencies, the intensity of the storm, and the location of your home.
If you need to evacuate, you will need to know evacuation routes, pre-determine where you will go, fill up the car(s), and pack. However, you will also need to prepare your home. To do it all right, you will need all the 36 hours.
Securing your home will take preparation well ahead of time.
- If your home does not have operable shutters, you will need plywood window covers, cut to the proper size and ready to install.
- Keep your trees trimmed away from the house. Clean your gutters to prepare for heavy rain.
- Bring outdoor furniture, grills, trash cans, wind chimes, etc., inside and secure them.
- Make sure your AC condenser unit is strapped to the concrete pad.
- Investigate a strap system to secure your roof to the structure of your home.
- If necessary, reinforce your garage door.
Prepare ahead of time for an extended power outage; a major hurricane might keep the power grid down for a week or more.
- Charge your phones, computers, and portable chargers before the storm arrives. They become vital communication tools in emergency situations.
- Secure some cash since a power outage will make credit/debit cards impossible to use.
- Even if you shelter in place, make sure to fill your car with gas.
- Turn the AC down during the hours immediately before the storm arrives, extending your comfort a little.
- Fill the bathtub with water for flushing and washing only.
- Keep your refrigerator and freezer closed as much as possible. Find details concerning food safety during power outages.
- Store important documents in a waterproof container
Stock up on some crucial supplies ahead of time. Expect folks to not be prepared and panic. If you are wise, you will consider purchasing emergency supplies a little at a time before they are needed and storing them securely. Some Hurricane Preparedness suggested items include:
- Bottled drinking water; approximately one gallon per family member per day.
- Non-perishable, ready-to-eat food; enough for 3 to 5 days.
- A first-aid kit, including prescription medicines
- Toilet paper and personal hygiene supplies, diapers and baby supplies
- Flashlights AND batteries
- A manual can opener
- A lighter and matches
- Don’t forget pet supplies
New Homeowner? We can help with Hurricane Preparedness
With over 5 decades of Hurricane Preparedness experience in the Houston Housing Market, The Matthews Team is ready to help you you with your hurricane preparedness efforts. If you have any questions, give us a call at 281-440-7900 or send us an email. We’re happy to help!