‘We’ll be with you to get through this season’: Here is Frank Billingsley’s letter to Houstonians as hurricane season begins

Frank Billingsley says: "I am afraid of homemade chocolate chip cookies and would love viewers to send me some to help me get over this." He's also somewhat afraid of coconut cream pie. Frank is not afraid of showing his sense of humor!

Once again our hurricane season has begun BEFORE June 1st (Tropical Storm Arthur & Bertha) and once again all the official forecasts are coming in with an above average forecast. Average is 12 storms, 6 of those becoming hurricanes and 3 of those becoming major--the National Hurricane Center has a forecast that potentially doubles that to 12 hurricanes and 6 majors!

I've found interesting data on a warmer world and hurricanes. The globe continues to set records for heat each year and, sure enough, we witness storms that are finding themselves in more northern communities (like Hurricane Sandy in New Jersey), storms that travel slower and drop more rain (like Harvey and Imelda), and storms that pack enormous wind power (like Dorian and Michael). We no longer anticipate big storms every few years. We expect them every year.

Of course, the big question is whether one of those hurricanes gets us or not. No one can know for sure, but the Gulf is plenty warm and certainly we know that our waters fully support strong hurricanes. The Houston-Galveston area is hit by a major hurricane about every 20-22 years and, technically, we haven't had a Cat 3 or higher since Alicia in 1983 so we are overdue. Hurricane Harvey did hit to our south in Rockport as a Cat 4 and we certainly felt the horrible effects of a flooding hurricane. Hurricane Ike in 2008 rose just to the cusp of being a Cat 3, but fell short with Cat 2 110mph winds, although the surge was more akin to a Cat 4!

So we can split hairs all we want, the bottom line is there is no reason to think the Gulf won't have an active season. There is no El Nino to generate winds hampering storm development, winds across the Atlantic are light so they won't tear anything up, and the ocean water continues warmer than normal again. We must be prepared for such an emergency and in this age of Covid-19 it's even more important to have a plan and supplies. You'll likely have to stay put unless you live in a surge zone and then you'll need a place on higher ground.

We'll be with you to get through this season, as always, and our entire weather and news team are well-aware of the extra challenges we all face right now. Thank you for trusting us.


About the Author:

KPRC 2's chief meteorologist with three decades of experience forecasting Houston's weather.