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Two named tropical storms made their grand entrance in the Atlantic last month, well ahead of the official start of the hurricane season on June 1, marking the first time for such an occurrence since 1908. Alberto formed off the South Carolina coast and Beryl made landfall in Florida, bringing drenching rains and driving winds with her.

Even with two storms already in the books, a research team at Colorado State University has predicted reduced hurricane and storm activity for the 2012 season. They have predicted a below-average probability for major hurricanes making landfall along the U.S. coastline and in the Caribbean. However, they warn that whether the nation faces one hurricane or a dozen, the public should prepare the same way every season, because it only takes one hurricane making landfall to make it an active season for coastal residents.

That is particularly true in Texas, where some Texans are still cleaning up from Hurricane Ike, which in 2008 became the second most costly hurricane to make landfall in the U.S. It made landfall near Galveston as a category 2 hurricane. More than 100 people were killed in Texas by the hurricane, which at one point measured 600 miles in diameter. Damages totaled $29.5 billion, second only to the $108 billion caused by 2005’s devastating Hurricane Katrina.

The longtime hurricane researchers at Colorado State predict that during the 2012 hurricane season, there will be 10 named storms and four hurricanes, with two of them major hurricanes. They predict that there is a 42% probability that at least one major (category 3, 4, or 5) hurricane will make landfall somewhere along the U.S. coastline, a 24% probability of landfall along the East Coast and including the Florida peninsula, and a 24% probability of landfall somewhere in the Gulf Coast area from the Florida Panhandle west to Brownsville.

As we enter the Atlantic hurricane season, State Senator Glenn Hegar, who represents a large portion of the Texas coast, encourages people across the state to prepare early for severe weather.

“Often when hurricanes strike, families have only a few minutes to respond,” says Senator Hegar. “Therefore, having a well mapped out emergency plan is vital. Awareness and preparation are essential to surviving and recovering from hurricanes.”

As a hurricane approaches, Texans in coastal and inland communities need to make preparations to be without power for a period of time consistent with the severity of the storm. Hurricane preparedness tips include:

•    Make alternative plans for critical care individuals who rely on electricity for
life-sustaining equipment.
•    Unplug sensitive electrical appliances, such as your computer.
•    Have battery-powered radios, flashlights, non-perishable food, and portable generators available for use if necessary.
•    If evacuation is inevitable, turn off your electricity at the circuit breaker.
•    Do not turn off your gas at the meter. The gas meter should be left on to maintain proper pressure in the gas piping within the house and to prevent water from entering the lines should flooding occur.
•    In the event of a power outage resulting from a hurricane, rest assured that professionals are working around the clock to restore your power. Providing information about downed power lines, electrical poles, and trees can assist companies in restoring power in a more timely manner.
•    Keep a copy of your homeowners insurance policy readily available. This can speed up the process of filing for a claim in the event that your home is damaged during the storm.

The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 to Nov. 30. For more information on how to prepare in the event of a hurricane, please visit txdps.state.tx.us/dem.

Senator Hegar represents District 18 in the Texas Senate, which contains over one-third of the Texas coastline. He is a sixth-generation Texan and earns a living farming on land that has been in his family since the mid-1800s. He currently resides in Katy with his wife Dara and their three children, Claire, Julia, and Jonah.

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