Houston - Natural catastrophes
Due to the fact that Texas is such a huge state, diverse weather conditions may be experienced in one region whilst a few hundred miles away (or less!), quite the opposite conditions may be occurring. Tropical storms are fairly frequent resulting in severe but often short bursts of rain and result in flooding. Houston, however, has adequate drainage systems to counteract any severe threat.
Although 35 inches caused trucks to float down the interstates and some downtown car parks were completely flooded in 2001.
A lesson learned which has avoided a more dramatic outcome when Ike, the largest hurricane ever to hit Houston, made landfall on the city in september 2008.
There are no specific seasons for flooding, tornadoes and hurricanes and the city has a competent warning system on the internet (see below), television and the local radio stations. www.weather.com : a site you may wish to add to your bookmarks, enter your zip code and it produces an updated ten day forecast with any weather warnings. Its details include sun safety, pollen counts, water temperatures and even gardening tips!
A hurricane (West Indian language: big wind) can be rather damaging. The season is between August and October. A storm is classified a hurricane after it reaches more than 75 mp (120 kph)
Hurricane Bret, which occurred in August 2001 and hit the south coast of Texas, was the first since Hurricane Allen in 1980.
Tornadoes occur in Texas but are usually localized and isolated. The Texas Disaster Center is home to historical information and future warnings on www.disastercenter.com .
Tornadoes, also known as "twisters", are rotating clouds of air with connections to the ground. They can do a lot of damage when passing through populated areas.
If a tornado is coming up:
Get under a sturdy table in the basement.
If no basement is available, go to a small interior room or a room on
the opposite side of a tornado. Don't stay in front of windows.
If you are away from home, go to designated shelters away from outside walls,
glass and large rooms (malls, auditoriums). Don't go to your parked car.
Hide under big tables, in restrooms etc.
If you are in your car, drive away at a right angle to the storm movement. Leave your
carand lie in a ditch.
If you can hide UNDER something you will be better protected.
These are driven in from the tropics and the Gulf of Mexico and - while often intense - offer a relief to the humidity. Flooding is common but ebbs quickly with usually little or no damage.
These can be as small as gravel or as large as cricket balls, in extreme storms they have been reported to be even larger, can damage a roof (non tiled, which is the norm in Houston) and may dent a car, so insure your possessions accordingly.
Sun screen and hats are immensely important - especially for children - for nearly two thirds of the year.
Houston is very humid throughout its summer months (May – October) and with high temperatures. Drink plenty of water, especially the children.
Winter is short, a couple of months usually, but often temperatures are still warm enough for shorts at midday. Frosts are usual but restricted to two or three so some plants may need protection.
Floods are the most common natural hazards. If floods are announced, stay tuned to the radio or televison. Floods can happen really quickly. If you are being asked to leave the area or your house, please follow immediately to avoid danger to your and your family's life.
Ensure you take out ‘umbrella insurance’, flood insurance etc. as these changeable weather conditions can leave you out of pocket.
See the section Insurance for further comprehensive information.