It’s good to have a plan.

Thinking about the potential of a hurricane strike in the Rio Grande Valley — and what you should do to protect yourself, your family and your property — is something to consider long before a hurricane warning is issued.

“One thing I would strongly recommend is people need to have a hurricane plan in place, and this includes people in the Mid-Valley region,” said Dan Kottlowski, AccuWeather lead hurricane forecaster. “We saw that from Hanna last year. If you didn’t have a plan to deal with the floods, you were in a deep water, let’s put it that way.”

Kottlowski has spent decades studying Valley weather, including our tropical disturbances. He believes Valley residents often take the threat of hurricanes too lightly.

“I’ve been through so many tropical storms and hurricanes in the Valley that I know the vulnerability very well, and it’s just a fact it doesn’t matter what the hurricane forecast it, because the Valley is vulnerable,” he said. “You should plan to be vulnerable.”

Kottlowski said the hit much of the Valley received last July from Hanna revealed that: Not from wind so much as flooding.

“If you were impacted by Hanna last year with flooding rain, then you certainly should have a good idea of what you need to do for the next one,” he said. “The problem is there’s part of the Valley, especially the Lower Valley, which really did not have the flooding issue.

“They did have some flooding in Harlingen but once you got south of Harlingen into the Brownsville area and extreme southeastern Hidalgo and southern portions of Cameron County, the rain issue was not nearly as bad.”

Kottlowski says his concern is those who did not flood during Hanna may have a misplaced sense of security, and warned that each tropical storm or hurricane that comes ashore in the region produces unique threats.

“Dolly was a good example,” Kottlowski said. “I mean, we had massive flooding in Dolly. Dolly’s heavy rainfall affected more of the Lower Valley than it did the Upper Valley. So again each storm presents a different issue and presents a different rainfall pattern across the Valley and I don’t doubt that will be the case this year as well.”

One of his concerns revolves around the familiarity of Valley residents with tropical storms and hurricane threats which can lead to complacency.

“They realize, OK, we were hit directly by a hurricane last year,” he said. “So the odds of the Valley being hit by a hurricane are lower this year simply because we had one last year. Statistics, OK?

“I know there are going to be people with that attitude. They’ll say ‘Oh, we had one last year, we’re not going to get one this year,’” he added. “I know people down there and that’s the way they think. People have to get out of that mindset, they need to prepare regardless. It doesn’t take much for us to have major issues in the Valley even from a slow-moving, unorganized tropical system. And that’s what really scares me right now.”