3...2...1...HUNKER! Along the Gulf Coast, most of us are keenly aware of the approach of hurricane season each year. Even if we don't know the exact date it starts (June 1), we know that the advance of summer and hotter temperatures means the tropics are about to get busy. Some people really prepare, while the rest wait until a storm is threatening us and then race to the store for bottled water, batteries and beer. This not only helps the local economy, it gives TV stations plenty of file footage of empty shelves for future disasters.
But apparently the folks at the Galveston Office of Emergency Management think all that rushing around on the eve of destruction is a bad idea. County Judge Mark Henry, in particular, pooh-poohs the idea and, in collaboration with Clear Channel Outdoor, has decided to hang up some truly massive digital billboards with digital countdown clocks on them to remind us all that there's a storm (season) a-brewin'.
There are always a handful of billboards up each year reminding us that we need to get ready for hurricane season and, in truth, it's not a bad idea. But the countdown clock -- posted on four digital billboards -- is a bit much. First, it might be the most anticlimactic countdown in history. Unless something radical happens, chances are there will only be one tropical storm in the month of June (the historical average) and it probably won't be a hurricane or threaten land (statistically speaking). Also, the likelihood of it even existing on June 1, let alone striking land, is extremely low.
More important, what happens when the billboard hits midnight? Technically, June 1 begins at midnight, so I'm guessing not a whole lot of people will be there to see it tick off its final seconds. Then what? Does it go dark? Does a video montage of weathermen battling the raging winds of previous hurricanes come on the screen with the music from "Ride of the Valkyries" because that would be badass!
Either way, it does seem a little over the top, but considering the fact that so many people refuse to leave even when they are warned they could be in serious danger, maybe not.
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.