OUR VIEW: Keep a keen eye on the tropic

Later this week, the calendar will flip from August to September – a change that some regard as the official beginning of the end for the always-popular summer season.

But September’s arrival marks more than just summer’s end, shorter days and the beginning of football season. It’s also the beginning of the peak for hurricane season, which means that you and your family should be sure to polish up your storm-related plans in the coming months in order to stay prepared in the event of a storm blowing into our area.

The time is now.

Just look at what’s going on around the tropics as proof that it’s time to prepare you and your family for what may be about to come.

At press-time on Monday afternoon, there was a storm churning in the Gulf of Mexico. Though not expected to make landfall in Louisiana (per the National Hurricane Center forecasts), anything can happen and we are not yet out of the woods of feeling impacts from the storm in the coming days – even if those impacts are just minimal.

But this storm is just one of many others which may form in the coming weeks that could command our immediate attention.

A quick look at the globe shows that the rest of the tropics are heating up, as well.

In the past week, several waves have flared up off the coast of Africa and have developed into tropical systems.

While the Gulf system was fighting to get organized, we saw Hurricane Gaston form in the Atlantic, and also a tropical depression form off the coast of the Carolinas.

Meteorologists are currently watching a system just getting off the coast of Africa. They suspect it will blossom into a hurricane – even though it’s still two, if not even three weeks away from the mainland United States.

And folks in the know say that many more systems will slide off Africa and will form in the Atlantic in the weeks ahead.

So don’t be blindsided if something knocks on our doorsteps and forces folks in Louisiana to take immediate action.

Take the proper precautions right now and get ready for the peak weeks of the season which lie ahead.

Now is the time to map out an evacuation route if your family plans to leave during a natural disaster.

When making this plan, be sure to map out destinations in all directions. This is, of course, because all storms are different. Depending on the direction in which the storm is approaching, your evacuation route will be different.

If it’s approaching from the East, going to Florida will not be as good an idea. If approaching from the West, going to Houston will not be as favorable. So don’t commit to just one place. Find hotels and/or family members all around the Southeast to make sure that you’re not evacuating into a place that’s receiving effects from the storm, as well.

Having destinations across the Gulf Coast covers all bases, and it will just give you peace of mind – something that is just as important as the actual plan itself.

If planning to stay during a storm event, it’s time to stock up on emergency necessities like water, canned meats, Band-Aids and all of the other essentials. You guys know the drill. Everyone knows what is needed in hurricane situations. Unfortunately, we’ve had to do all of these things many, many times before.

But because of our experience in crisis, we know that it’s better to shop early, because history shows that there’s nothing worse than being stuck in line at the store when the hurricane is brewing in the Gulf of Mexico and time is short.

So let’s just plan ahead and keep an eye on what’s going on in the tropics.

Of course, we all hope that the plans are wasted and that Louisiana stays safe and hurricane-free for the remainder of the 2016 season.

But with the way activity is beginning to rev up in the tropics, there’s no way to promise that.

It’s better to have a plan that’s never used than to not have a plan at all.

Now is the time to get ready. •