No Time to Wait

Tropical Storm Hermine’s rapid formation in the Gulf of Mexico is one of the fastest on record. While it may have caught some off guard, officials say it is a good reason to always be prepared. Pat Hernandez has more.


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Tropical Strom HermineHermine went from tropical depression to tropical storm in just 21-hours over the weekend, an extremely fast intensification rate. Hurricane Humberto in 2007 holds the record at 18-hours. Impact Weather Meteorologist Chris Hebert is a hurricane expert. He says Hermine’s quick development was no surprise, since the southwestern Gulf of Mexico is prone to these types of rapid formations.

“We had been looking at that disturbance in the eastern Pacific on Thursday and Friday and some of the model guidance had been predicting for the past week, that part of that disturbance would move into the Bay of Campeche, and develop into some kind of low pressure system in the gulf that would track up toward northeastern Mexico. So a couple of days before, we had already alerted our clients to that possibility that something would be developing there and tracking up in the general direction that it did.”

Historically September is the month when tropical activity peaks in the Atlantic, but Hebert says its not unusual for developments to occur early or late in the hurricane season.

“We saw it with Alicia in 1983. A weak frontal boundary pushes off the coast, just some thunderstorms out there and it forms into a hurricane within about 36-hours. They can form very quickly in the early parts of the year when there are fronts moving off shore, and in the latter parts of the year. When we start to get fronts out in September and October in the gulf, they can form with the thunderstorms of these cold fronts, and they can form on the cold front, and form into a tropical cyclone very quickly out in the gulf.”

The topography of the land surrounding the Bay of Campeche induces a counter-clockwise spin to the air over the region, which helps in the quick formation of tropical storms.

“We’d love to prepare for all emergencies and disasters, if we knew they were going to happen three days from now. Unfortunately, that’s not the world in which we live.”

Mark Sloan coordinates operations for the Harris County Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, He says planning for weather related emergencies is a year round endeavor.

“We have to be prepared today, and that’something that we want our public to understand is that, when we talk about it in May of hurricane season, its making sure you have non-perishable food and water all throughout hurricane season, cause they can pop up out of nowhere, and impact us in a very short time frame.” 

Sloan adds its important for newcomers to the area to be aware of this time of year.

“We know from June 1st to November 30th and our proximity to the coastline, that Mother Nature can stir up a storm in a hurry, and we just want our communities to take the time and review their plans and their kits that they did back in June. This is the heart of hurricane season and survive whatever it is we may face in our near future.”

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