2022 hurricane season has started. Here’s what you should know.

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A cart full of hurricane supplies at Southland Hardware.

Houston-area officials are urging residents to prepare and be ready if the worst happens as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicts another “above normal” Atlantic hurricane season in 2022 with 14-21 named storms.

The season’s timeline

The height of the Atlantic hurricane season will occur between August and October, peaking on September 10. These later-season months bring about warm sea temperatures and low wind shear – among other factors – that come together at the right time of the year to create major storms, lead hurricane season forecaster for NOAA’s climate prediction center Matthew Rosencrans said on Wednesday’s edition of Houston Matters.

The Houston area is also subject to storm formation in early June, with forecasters observing a 70% chance of a storm formation between the Yucatán [Peninsula] and Florida in the next two days. That storm is not expected to affect the Houston area.

“The season in the Gulf is a little bit longer than the core of the season,” Rosencrans said, urging Houstonians to prepare for Hurricane season by gathering a supplies kit, scheduling an insurance check-up, and creating an evacuation plan with their family.

“We’re seeing the signs of the season come alive now,” he said.

Storm severity for 2022

NOAA has predicted up to six of the 21 named storms to be major, ranging anywhere from Category 3 to Category 5 hurricanes, in which winds reach speeds of 111 miles per hour or greater. While forecasters cannot confirm how many of these named storms will land and make an impact on communities, they advise residents of vulnerable areas to stay vigilant.

“It only takes one storm for us to really have a bad year if we’re affected,” Harris County Homeland Security and Emergency Management coordinator Mark Sloan told Houston Matters.

Ever since 1995, the Atlantic region has been experiencing a “high activity era,” compounded by patterns in sea surface temperature and wind that are conducive to the formation of major storms. The two decades prior to 1995 are characterized as a “low period”, with less major storm activity.

“What could cause a change to low activity era is still an open research question,” Rosencrans said. “But there is a possibility it could flip back.”

How to prepare

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo spoke to Houston Public Media’s Michael Hagerty on Wednesday to express her hope for a hurricane-free summer while laying out four objectives for Houstonians as they face the season: Making a hurricane kit, making a plan, staying informed, and getting flood insurance.

“We need to prepare so that if and when disaster strikes it doesn’t have as much of a negative impact on us and our families and our communities,” Hidalgo said, reiterating the role of the Harris County Office of Emergency Management in preparing for potential disasters and encouraging the public’s cooperation. “All of us are a part of the first-response team.”

Sloan reminded Houston residents that all storms are different and can have varying impacts, with some producing heavy rain, others bringing winds and damaging property and many completely bypassing communities.

“All [tropical storms] bring different risks and threats, and that’s why it’s important to stay informed,” Sloan said, citing readyharris.org as a useful resource when preparing for a hurricane.

Sloan recommended scanning important personal documents documenting assets in case of flooding, as well as taking photographs of your home and furniture so as to more efficiently recover from any damage inflicted by a storm.

Houston Matters’ Craig Cohen and Ernie Manouse of Town Square recommended putting together an “emergency essentials kit” with nonperishable food, water, clothes, blankets, first-aid supplies and hygiene products for yourself, your family, and your pets.

For new Houstonians, staying informed is of the utmost importance throughout this hurricane season.

“It’s not about being afraid that a storm may happen, it’s about being prepared,” Sloan said.