While the impact of Hurricane Alex on the Valley may have been minor, compared to the region’s last significant storm, Dolly in 2008, county officials are urging residents to gear up for a long season.
Hurricane season on the Gulf Coast typically lasts from June 1 to November 30, and if Alex is any indication of what to expect, residents as well as county officials should be ready to enact emergency preparations at a moment’s notice, according to Tony Peña, Hidalgo County’s emergency management coordinator.
“We still have a lot of time. We might be doing this again in the next two to three weeks,” Peña said. “We ask our viewers and listeners that they be patient.”
Residents in the Valley may not have two weeks to prepare if conditions in the Gulf continue. As of Monday July 5, experts are keeping an eye on a tropical system in the western Caribbean Sea as it prepared to move across the Yucatan Peninsula.
Atmospheric conditions are favorable for development as the system eventually enters the southern Gulf of Mexico, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). There is currently a 40 percent change of the system becoming a tropical cyclone within 48 hours, the NOAA said Monday.
County staff are well prepared ahead of a potential storm, according to Hidalgo County Judge Rene Ramirez. Staff are in place who worked through Hurricane Dolly, and have become ready through practice in between major storm events, Ramirez said.
“We don’t take anything for granted,” he said. “We did very well, and we still have some challenges. I think like any event, it’s hard to predict what will happen. I think it is a result of the men and women here who went through the Dolly experience. We went through the rehearsal, we did the practices, but it’s different when it’s in real time.”
Hurricane Alex made landfall in Mexico on Wednesday June 30 as a category-2 hurricane “with category-4 features”, Peña said.
The storm strengthened once it merged with the dissipating Hurricane Darby in the Pacific bringing at much as 10 inches of rain in Hidalgo County.
“We saw what was happening, and we went ahead and got our EOC opened, started communicating with our shelters and with our emergency management and response teams, and had everybody in place,” Ramirez said.. “It was talking with our local jurisdictions saying ‘these are our resources, which we inventoried over the years,’ so we know what we have and what’s working, so when it comes down to post events, we are ready to get on the field versus trying to figure out what’s out there.”