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Preparation tips as hurricane season gets under way

Hurricane season begins today and continues through November 30. That means the time to prepare for the possibility of a hurricane making landfall along the upper Texas gulf coast is now. Researchers at Colorado State University have revised their forecast down slightly for the hurricane season. Those experts now say the probability of a major hurricane making landfall in the U.S. is near the long-range average. More on that shortly, but first this reminder for those who might need help evacuating should a hurricane make landfall in our area – part of that preparation means registering with the state. Liberty County Emergency Management Coordinator Tom Branch said registration is easy and should be done by calling 2-1-1 or going online to the state’s registry. That state website can be accessed from the top of our homepage at www.kshn.com. Mr. Branch said those needing help during an evacuation should register now - not when a hurricane is in the Gulf of Mexico. Also, even for those who registered in past years, they are still required to re-signup again this year. We also spoke with Dayton insurance agent Steven Skarpa. He said it takes 30 days from purchase for flood insurance to go into effect. As for property and casualty coverage for wind and storm damage - that goes into effect when it’s bound or accepted by the insurance agent. However, insurance companies generally will not write any new coverage or make any changes to existing coverage in Texas whenever a named storm or tropical disturbance enters or even threatens the Gulf of Mexico. Also, insurance companies do not write auto insurance when there is a watch or warning in effect. These rules affect those living in any coastal county or a county that adjoins it. The writing of that insurance coverage resumes when the threat has ended. Turning back now to the revised forecast from Colorado State University, their predictions for the 2018 season are for 13 named tropical storms with six reaching hurricane force. The Colorado State forecast predicts three of those storms to reach major status with sustained winds of at least 111 miles per hour. A major hurricane constitutes a Category 3 or higher on the widely accepted Saffir-Simpson Scale. This year’s predictions compare to the 50-year median of 12 storms per year with 2.3 reaching category 3 or higher. So, what about predictions for our area? These experts from Colorado State predict the Gulf Coast – all the way from the Florida Panhandle westward to Brownsville here in Texas – has a 29 percent chance of being struck by a major hurricane. The 50-year average is 30 percent. Those forecasters base their predictions on the low probability of El Nino conditions this year. Again, hurricane season begins today and continues through November 30. For helpful tips, supply lists and emergency preparation information, go to kshn.com and click on disaster preparedness under the local information tab.

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