On Monday morning Tropical Cyclone Hellen made landfall on the northwest coast of Madagascar in the southwest Indian Ocean. The satellite picture taken Sunday afternoon shows Hellen when it was nearing Category 5 intensity.

While we seldom hear about storms in this region, it turns out they are fairly common, as shown in the map of tracks since 1985. Cyclone is the terminology folks in the Indian Ocean use for a hurricane, and other than rotating in the opposite direction from our tropical systems, they are the same beast. Forecasts for the southern Indian Ocean Cyclones come from the French Meteorological Service on Reunion Island and from the U.S. Joint Typhoon Warning Center.

I'm writing about Cyclone Hellen as a reminder that our hurricane season is just two months away. April and May is the time frame that local emergency managers, the National Hurricane Center, and local National Weather Service forecasters review their operations plans in order to be ready come June 1.

For those of us living in the Houston-Galveston area, we need to be doing the same. If you have a hurricane plan for your family, go over it and make sure it is correct. If you don't have a plan – make one!

I like to make a checklist of things to do before June 1. Must do's for April include making sure I have windstorm and flood insurance, getting the cars in tip-top shape and updating my communication plan to notify family and friends.

In May, I make sure my food, water and safety supply kit is fully stocked. 

There are many things you can do before a storm pops up. For help in getting prepared, go to Click2Houston.com and review the helpful advice in the Before the Storm section.

Let's all be hurricane ready this year!