New to Texas? Top tips if this is your first Atlantic hurricane season

For 2023, NOAA has predicted a "near normal" outlook with 12-17 named storms and five to nine of those storms becoming hurricanes.

Brittaney Wilmore Image
Wednesday, June 14, 2023
New to Texas? Top tips if this is your first hurricane season
If you're new to Southeast Texas or the Gulf Coast, you'll want to be ready for the 2023 Atlantic Hurricane season. Here's what to know.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- It's no secret Texas has been a popular place to move to over the last few years.

A project produced by the ABC data team at our station in San Francisco found that from 2009 to 2019, Texas has been the No. 1 destination for departing Californians within the last decade. During that time period, an average of about 68,700 Californians moved to Texas each year.

Which means if you're here from California or another state, you might not be used to getting prepared for hurricanes.

For the 2023 Atlantic Hurricane season, NOAA has predicted a "near normal" outlook with 12-17 named storms and five to nine of those storms becoming hurricanes.

El Nino has also officially arrived. It's identified by warmer than average waters in the Equatorial Eastern Pacific, and tends to create higher wind shear during hurricane season, which in turn can help to limit tropical development.

Still, people in southeast Texas and along the Gulf Coast know, it just takes one storm to cause devastation.

So, even when it's quiet in the tropics, you'll want to stay ready, whether you're new to town or not.

ABC13 meteorologist Elyse Smith is one of our new neighbors. She joins the team at KTRK from Buffalo, New York, where she may not have dealt with hurricanes, but she still had to be ready for disasters and emergencies to help keep people safe.

"The last natural disaster I covered was a major snow storm so people lost power for several days. It's always important to be ready and have a kit, but a hurricane specific one, that's what I need," said Smith.

One of the tools used to help her (and you!) get ready is the ABC13 hurricane tracking guide available at Kroger. It comes with a prep checklist in English and Spanish, listing everything from non-perishable foods that are high in protein to sustain you. You can also print it.

"Packaged fruits, canned tuna, anything canned is really great, canned vegetables," said Elizabeth Colvin, vice president of merchandising at Kroger. "Stay consistent. Once you have your toolkit all together and available for your family, don't let it go. Keep it in stock."

Of course, flashlights and batteries are on the list, along with a major essential: water.

"I would stock up on about a week's worth of water, and get it in stock while it's here now, not when it's right before the storm," said Smith.

You'll also want to make sure you have an emergency kit prepared for your pets. They'll need at least a week's worth of food and water.

Now might also be a good time to microchip in case you have to evacuate and you get separated.

"Microchipping your pet is also one of the best ways to keep an ID in their body, so that in case they get lost or something, we should be able to identify where they are and to possibly reunite with the owner," said Fort Bend County Judge KP George.

From signing up for emergency weather alerts to the important documents you'll want to gather right now, here's how you can stay ready for hurricane season.

George and Fort Bend's emergency management coordinator Greg Babst work every season to get the message about hurricane preparedness out early.

But it's become increasingly more important to continue to warn people as the county gains new residents.

"Well, almost 894,000 people live in Fort Bend County now. There's a lot of people moving from Chicago and New York and California. Maybe they've only heard of hurricanes, and they never prepared for them," George said, adding that one of the first things new people should do is sign up for emergency alerts.

Just text 'FBC Alert' to 888777 to receive crucial notifications about everything from severe weather to unexpected road closures.

You can also follow Fort Bend or your respective county's social media pages.

George and county officials stress, though, whatever you do, be sure to get information from reliable sources.

If you're in Fort Bend County, you can also receive translation services 24 hours a day for languages, including Spanish, Vietnamese and Tagalog.

"Our office number here is 281-238-3434. You get ahold of us there, and then our 24-hour line, 281-342-6185, is being monitored all the time," Babst said, who also advises that you should know your Municipal Utility District or MUD.

"When you lose power and you lose water, you have to know what your utility district is because that's how we set restrictions for boil water notices and for evacuations," Babst added.

And speaking of evacuations, if you're a coastal resident from Galveston or Brazoria County, you'll go through Fort Bend, which is a pass-through county.

Highway 6, Highway 59, and Highway 90A are all among the designated hurricane evacuation routes.

And don't forget your important documents.

"I would say it's crucial knowing your social security cards, your health insurance cards, your financial records, your insurance policies, your deeds, family records, legal titles, any other important documents you have that have to do with insurance and then following through on that insurance because you did go through a disaster," Babst said, adding that you'll want to keep them in a sealed, waterproof envelope.

Fort Bend county is hosting events this week where you can get waterproof bags to store your documents and other essentials.

The first event is June 12 at 2 p.m.

Fort Bend Independent Living

12946 Dairy Ashford #110

Sugar Land, Texas

Contact: Gretchen


The next event is June 14 from 6:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.

Attack Poverty - Friends of N. Rosenberg

1908 Avenue E

Rosenberg, Texas

Contact: Avalon Sykes - Director/Disaster Recovery


And remember, you can sign up for emergency alerts in Houston, across the Houston area and outside of it.

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