Not too early to start making a plan for hurricane season

Published 8:00 pm Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Hurricane season may still be several weeks away, but news from the National Weather Service of a tropical low in the Gulf of Mexico off the Florida Coast is a reminder that we’re not far away from the annual six-month period when states along the Gulf Coast are in danger from one of the most destructive forces of nature.

Records abound with the names of storms that have caused destruction and death among the states that border the northern Gulf of Mexico: Audrey, Carla, Betsy, Camille, Andrew, Georges, Ivan, Katrina, Harvey and Irene. Each caused disaster and pain for the people who lived in the areas targeted by these storms.

And even though we’re hundreds of miles from the coast and snug in our homes doesn’t mean we can’t fall victim to a hurricane’s wrath. As these storms move inland and weaken into low pressure systems, they become rainmakers and spawn tornadoes that can be every bit as deadly as the parent storms that hit the coast the day or hours before.

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Wind speeds of 100 mph from Katrina in 2005 were felt as far north as central Mississippi, causing power outages. Ivan in 2004 bypassed the Mississippi Gulf Coast after hitting Alabama and devastated Meridian with high winds and rain. Camille and Betsy moved east after hitting Mississippi and Louisiana, causing destruction and flooding in Virginia and West Virginia.

We need to keep these things in mind as June 1 and the hurricane season arrives, especially since many forecasters predict an above average season with 14 named storms and at least three major hurricanes.

That means preparing now for the possible event that we may be affected by a storm hitting our coast. Now is the time to check out flashlights and stock up on items like nonperishable foods, batteries and bottled water. It means preparing an emergency plan in case you have to leave your home and making sure items like prescription medications are filled, cell phones are charged and gas tanks in cars are full.

It’s quite possible we may escape damage from a storm up here in west central Mississippi, but there is also the chance we get hit and hit hard. And this is the time to get prepared for the possibility of a visit from a severe storm.