AUSTIN (KXAN) – Hurricane season has officially begun, and it is not looking good. Early estimates show a higher-than-average number of named storms will form in the Atlantic this season. The season typically sees 14 named storms, experts believe we will see 20 this season.
Jeff Mangum with Tornado Trackers is gearing up for the season. The professional storm chaser and his teamwork in partnership with KXAN to give viewers an up-close and live view of the biggest storms.
Meteorologist Kristen Currie spoke to Jeff about this past severe weather season and his growing concern about hurricane season. You can watch those interviews above or read the full transcripts below.
KRISTEN CURRIE, KXAN NEWS – It was a very busy severe weather season here in Central Texas. We had boots on the ground and an eyewitness. They’re tracking it all for us. Joining me now is Jeff Mangum, storm chaser for Tornado Trackers and our partner at KXAN.
Jeff, I wanted to pick your brain. You’ve been chasing for a long time here in Central Texas. What stood out to you looking back at this past severe weather season?
JEFF MANGUM, TORNADO TRACKERS – Yeah, I think there’s a couple of things that stood out. I actually think that the drought that we’ve had had a real impact on our severe weather season. So, we did not see as many severe storms as I’m typically used to seeing in the spring and early summertime. But the ones we had were really potent.
We had those two significant storms that brought tornadoes to our area. So that was rare. I think it was rare that we didn’t have as many storms, but also rare that we had tornadic storms actually hit the Austin Metroplex and surrounding counties.
CURRIE – As far as your experience goes, Were those high-end tornadoes?
MANGUM – Yeah, from experience, I would say they were both high-end tornadoes, and that’s what’s difficult about measuring tornado wind speeds. Part of the process of that does not include what radar picks up in terms of wind speed. It’s all based upon how much damage a tornado does.
So, in particular, the Round Rock tornado that went into Granger, and we ended up catching it in Granger. It’s so much rural area in open fields. There just wasn’t a lot of materials and buildings to show really the strength of that tornado.
I will say we were about 100, 150 yards away from that tornado that hit Granger, and the wind speeds were really extreme. It was one thing to see the winds that strong, also knowing that it was in a fairly rural area, which was a good thing.
CURRIE – Tell me your thoughts on this coming hurricane season.
MANGUM – I’m getting a little concerned about what the season might look like. Obviously, we can’t at this point know how many storms are going to make landfall, where they’re going to make landfall. It’s too early in the season for us to know that yet.
All the projections and all the forecasts are veering toward a very, very active season, and may be as active as we’ve seen the last couple of years, which would be catastrophic for a lot of the coastal cities and towns and parishes.
So, I’m really concerned. I think it’s gonna be a very active season. I’m gearing up to chase as many as possible.
CURRIE – I think it’s important to note too, obviously, you are a trained professional. You have the science and meteorological background to do that. What are some of those notable hurricanes that you have been out and witnessed?
MANGUM – Yes, I would say the two that really stand out to me are hurricane Harvey and hurricane Laura. Harvey was very unique. I was right on the coast when that hit.
I would say something that’s really unique about what’s happening to hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico in the last four or five years, in particular, is what we call the RI, the rapid intensification.
I remember with Hurricane Harvey, 24 hours before landfall, it was a tropical storm. 24 hours later, it was a category 4, almost a category 5 hurricane.
The intensification of these hurricanes is just growing so fast that it makes it really difficult not only to pick where they’re going but what kind of impacts they are going to make.