It was only a matter of time before a tropical weather pattern formed in the Gulf.

At the time this paper went to press, the National Weather Service’s Shreveport, Louisiana, office had already placed Angelina County under a Hazardous Weather Outlook, with thunderstorms, heavier rainfall and potential for flooding in the forecast as Tropical Storm Barry develops along the coast and moves inland.

Now both professional and amateur meteorologists are poring over weather data, hoping for the best and planning for the worst.

It’s a common pastime in these parts, and it can be easy to brush what’s going on off the coast as just another false alarm. Of course, that’s what you do before it becomes the real deal.

By the time a hurricane or tropical storm is off the coast, grocery stores can become madhouses and gas stations can turn into waiting lines. That’s why now is the time to prepare. Not because there is any danger at this time, but because there is never a bad time to be prepared for the next storm.

When streets are flooding and your phone is lighting up with weather alerts, that’s the wrong time to start figuring out what necessary items you are lacking. This includes products for babies and pets, travel arrangements, a full tank of gas and a source of water that isn’t connected to the sewer lines.

Plan your exit strategy, and make sure all members of your immediate family are aware of plans. If panic sets in, getting everybody on the same page can be more stressful than it needs to be.

Don’t let the weather determine your exit strategy or plans.

This editorial has likely been written many times in the past, but it’s because people always need to be reminded.

With each passing day, it becomes easier to forget the damage a hurricane, regardless of its category or strength, can wreak on a community. And while we may think we’re safely nestled in the Pineywoods of East Texas, Katrina, Rita, Ike and Harvey each proved the folly of those beliefs. Mother Nature does not abide by any schedule, so it’s never too early to be prepared.

Becoming comfortable is easy to do, and no one is to blame for not being ready. That doesn’t mean you have to go out and stock an emergency shelter with canned goods that will get you through the next two years.

At least three days of necessities is recommended by Ready.gov. The website also recommend checking all drains, including gutters, on your property in preparation for heavy rains. The storms of the past few years also have taught us that it’s important to have an emergency supply kit on hand, as well. Your kit should include a flashlight, extra batteries, extra eyeglasses, bottled water, non-perishable food, dry clothes, bedding, insurance information, important documents, medications and copies of prescriptions, as well as any special products for babies, the elderly and medically fragile family members. Keep water and other supplies fresh.

The threat of the next storm is always there, so don’t wait until it’s too late to prepare.