Editorial: Prepare for summer storm season

Forecasters are calling for an above-average hurricane season, which began Thursday, June 1, for the Atlantic region this year. While Carroll residents might shrug their shoulders at that news, knowing the region is typically spared from the catastrophic effects hurricanes have elsewhere, it's worth noting those storms can still make an impact close to home and that powerful summer storms can pop up just about anywhere.

Don't believe us?


Recall last summer the storm that cropped up with little warning and, in a matter of minutes, flooded the streets of historic Ellicott City in neighboring Howard County. That community is still recovering.

The same torrential storm nearly became deadly for a Westminster man who was swept out of his backyard by a flooded creek and sucked through a drainage culvert. By a minor miracle, he survived with a few stitches to his head.

Sometimes, sadly, the weather does prove tragic. In July 2014, a 12-year-old boy was killed in a freak accident at River Valley Ranch when a tree fell on him following a pop-up thunderstorm.

A derecho, a fast-moving storm with winds between 60 and 80 miles per hour, whipped through six states in a 10-hour span on a June day in 2012, causing more than 1 million Maryland residents and about 3,000 or so homes in Carroll to lose power, some for nearly a week.

In October that same year, Superstorm Sandy — a downgraded hurricane — made landfall along the Jersey Shore but brought winds up to 60 mph to Carroll and more than 6 inches of rain, damaging three homes, causing minor flooding in others and canceling school for two days because of resulting power outages.

A year earlier, Hurricane Irene was followed by the remnants of Tropical Storm Lee, with Irene's winds causing days of power outages and Lee's rainfall causing more than 40 roads to be closed for flooding and, again, more than 6,500 residents without power.

So, yes, it isn't often Carroll is under the threat of a hurricane, but this county is no stranger to dangerous weather in the summer months. Preparation doesn't change much, regardless of how the storm might be identified.

Put together family disaster plans and emergency kits, including at least a gallon of water per person, per day; nonperishable food, a flashlight, battery-powered radio, first-aid kit, medications, personal hygiene items, a multipurpose tool like a Swiss army knife, cellphone chargers, extra cash, blankets, important documents and emergency contact information. Have a plan for individuals with special needs or medical conditions in case of an extended power outage.

If you've already put together a disaster kit, check now to make sure the food and water are still OK to eat and drink, and that fresh batteries are available for the flashlight and radio. Update any documents or contact information that might be out of date. And talk to family members to make sure everyone is on the same page regarding an emergency plan.

The start of hurricane season might not mean much to the average Carroll countian, but it's a good reminder to get prepared for potentially severe weather ahead this summer.