At the August Kingwood Area Super Neighborhood Council Meeting, Chairman Stan Sarman introduced Jeff Lindner, director of meteorology for the Harris County Flood Control District. He provided a comprehensive update of his analysis of the 2021 hurricane season and the chances of Harris County experiencing a named tropical storm before the end this hurricane season.
“Obviously, we are well into the hurricane season with two and a half months left. Right now, we have a couple of storms out there,” Lindner said, referring to Hurricanes Henri and Grace.
Lindner noted last year’s season was the most active on record with 30 named storms which surpassed the record of 28 in 2005. As he spoke, he displayed a national map showing all the storm tracks last year. Most had been in the Gulf of Mexico when they went onshore. Lindner explained most of last year’s storms were active in the Gulf of Mexico but the activity in the Atlantic Ocean off Africa was where storms later in the season often form.
“You need warm water to produce tropical storms. The threshold is about 80 degrees. Water temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico this year are running about 88 degrees so there is very warm water in the Gulf and that is typical in late August,” Lindner said. He explained the temperature is always in the 85—90-degree range in August. “So, there is lots of fuel there for storms and hurricanes to thrive on,” he said.
Lindner displayed a map of the world’s oceans depicting the temperature ranges throughout the world in summer and how they fluctuate, especially in the Pacific Ocean between the equator and Hawaii. When the temperatures are cool in that area it is called a La Nina and during those times there is often more tropical storm activity in the Atlantic Ocean than in other years. Last year was a La Nina year and still lingering cool water temperatures may be influencing storm development in the Atlantic now, including the Gulf of Mexico. If you go through all the different historical and scientific data used to better understand tropical storms, this year things look a little bit above average for storm formation.
“What is interesting is when you look at the probabilities by state of the probability of impacts of a tropical storm. In Texas it is about 75% this year which is about 15 to 17 percentage points above the average of 58%,” Lindner said. He noted so far Texas has been fortunate and has not had anything in the northwestern Gulf.
“But if you look back at history, if you tend to have a wet June and July, which we have had this year, the threat of a potential major hurricane tends to be a little elevated in August and September,” Lindner said. He closed his presentation with an emphasis on having plans and hurricane kits prepared now rather than later.
“We found that 75% of the tropical storms and hurricanes that hit the Texas coast form and strike the coast within 60 hours. They are not your Ritas and Ikes. They are actually like Alicia back in 1983 that formed and struck the coast in about 58 hours,” Lindner said and added that Hurricane Harvey was also a short notice storm.
· 100% of the construction plans and drainage studies for the Northpark Overpass Project are available to the public on the Lake Houston Redevelopments Authority’s website at: lakehoustonra.com/t-1013-project-north-park-overpass-project/.
· Preliminary engineering plans have begun regarding the Northpark Drive Improvement project to widen it and make it a designated evacuation route. It is going to take a year to get the design and engineering phase completed.
· Preliminary engineering studies on the Kingwood Diversion Ditch and the Taylor Gully Ditch/Detention basins are now underway. Monthly status meetings by the Houston Flood Control District are scheduled. Sarman or another Lake Houston Redevelopment Authority representative will be participating in them.
The next Kingwood Super Neighborhood Council Meeting is currently scheduled to be held Sept. 15. Due to the continuing COVID threat the council decided to continue conducting it as a Zoom teleconference next month and until further notice, at least through the end of the year.