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Thanks To Ernesto, Timely Hurricane Conference

Weather watchers are keeping an eye on Tropical Storm Ernesto speeding over the Eastern Caribbean. Little wonder that the storm was included as a topic of discussion at a scheduled hurricane conference at the UH Hilton.



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The annual conference and exhibition, sponsored by the University’s Texas Hurricane Center for Innovative Technology, was attended by government and industry representatives. Houston City Councilmember Steven Costello says while it may be old hat for most of us to be ready for hurricane season six months out of each year, each weather system, hurricane or not, is different.

“We need to remind them that this could be a real problem. When I first got involved in this business, it wasn’t a hurricane. It was a tropical storm. It was just a rainfall event. And so, it could happen even without wind that there are problems. So we just need to be pro-active in giving that message to everyone and saying okay, here is what’s available to you. Please be prepared, please practice it, and just be pro-active and continue to be pro-active during an entire hurricane season.”

Harris County Judge Ed Emmett is in constant contact with his staff and with officials at TranStar. He says attending this conference affords him and other attendees a chance to learn something new from the academics.

“Where do we think things are going in the future? And that’s why having the academics involved is a good idea.”

Hernandez: “Might this particular conference take on added significance because of what might be brewing in the next week?”

Emmett: “Well, the great thing about having a storm like Ernesto show up in the far reaches of the Caribbean, is that it gets everybody’s attention. Anytime you have the meteorologist being, some of them almost breathless because they now have something to talk about, that’s actually a good thing in my book, because it does get people’s attention. So the timing of this conference with Ernesto, it’s almost like they staged it.”

Jack Steele is executive director of the Houston-Galveston Area Council. He says the media will always play a major role in responding to a hurricane.

“Because that’s where we all get our information, particularly our electronic media. And so the more focused we can get through the electronic media on: These are the surge zones. This is what impacts you, begin to plan, understand that you may need to evacuate, know your evacuation routes.’ And then listen to the media when there’s the possibility of a storm, so that you can take action promptly.”

He hopes attendees got three things out of the conference:

“[One] remember that we gotta continue to plan, because our region is growing, second, prepare early, [and] third, stay informed.”

Meanwhile, Ernesto’s current forecast track shows it possibly becoming a hurricane next week.

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