Springing into hurricanes

By John Toth / Editor and Publisher

Wake up, get the hot tea going, look out the window. It’s overcast again. Got used to that a while back. Looks like rain. Yes, the forecast says there will be rain.

The first day of summer will be on June 21. It actually starts at 12:38 p.m. on that day, Central TIme. But the calendar doesn’t know what has been going on all this time. Spring should be over. We have had enough rain. It’s time for a hot, drier summer.

June 1 was the first day of the long Hurricane Season. After some early tropical disturbances, there are actually indications that it will be less active than normal, but it only takes one to turn everything upside down.

Remember 2005, when it seemed that it rained all summer long? I was busy traveling to my daughter’s softball games at the time, and I can’t remember a weekend when we didn’t have some sort of a rain threat. It was really hard to schedule tournaments. There were a lot of cancellations.

One weekend we drove all the way to San Marcos, just to learn after we got there that the tournament was canceled. Then the problem was getting out of there, since everything was flooding. We drove back the same day.

That was the same year that Texas was hit by Rita, and New Orleans was pounded by Hurricane Katrina. The two were about two weeks apart. Katrina first destroyed New Orleans’ levees, and then Rita headed this way, causing mass confusion, a poorly planned evacuation, and a week’s vacation for me at the banks of the Medina River in the Hill Country.

Then Rita made a turn eastward and didn’t affect us, after all. But you can never be too cautious, and the river felt really good while I relaxed in its cool waters with the family.

We had to stay a few extra days to make sure that the danger was over. You don’t want to mess with a hurricane. They could change their minds and come back at you. It was best to stay put in the Hill Country a while longer.

I did the same thing when Hurricane Ike was coming. Unfortunately, that one caused some damage, but the river was still refreshing.

There was no sense in staying at home without power when I could be grilling some chicken and telling fish stories as I watched the river slowly flow by the campsite.

Luckily, the campsite was not washed away by the spring floods those years.

These are some plus sides to evacuating. But I hope we don’t have to do it this Hurricane Season. I hope that the predictions are right, and it’s going to be a nice, quiet summer.

Bring on the heat and the mosquitos. It’s great training for the Mosquito Festival, anyway. Just leave the hurricanes behind.

The only hurricane I have ridden out so far was Hurricane Alicia in 1983. But I was young then, and life was simpler. I was also covering it for the Houston Chronicle. And to be honest, it wasn’t all that adventurous.

I even went outside when it was still dark and drove around while in the eye of the storm. A lot of houses still had power, except in Lake Jackson. It seems like if power goes out anywhere around here because of a storm, it goes out first in Lake Jackson.

But considering that we took a direct hit from a Category 3 hurricane, it wasn’t all that bad around here. Galveston got banged up hard, since it was on the dirty side (the right side) of Alicia.

Then Ike slammed the island about three decades later, causing massive destruction again, and affected some parts of our county more than others, including widespread power losses.

That’s enough walking down Hurricane Lane.

Dear reader, we are running a lot of hurricane preparation news in this issue, and you may want to sit down for a minute and give some thought to what you will do if a major storm threatens the area.

It seems like most of the tropical activity tends to concentrate in the Gulf of Mexico from the late August to mid-September time period, based on past experiences.

We have been pretty lucky in these parts, but don’t let your guard down. Stay prepared, and at the same time, pray that it will be just another long, hot summer.

That’s the way we like it.