When the clock ticked past midnight today (Saturday, April 22), Texans welcomed their first sales tax holiday of 2017.
During the three-day event, which runs until midnight Monday, April 24, no state or local sales tax will be collected on certain emergency preparation supplies.
Tax-free purchases these next three days include:
- batteries, fuel containers and flashlights priced at less than $75;
- hurricane shutters and emergency ladders priced at less than $300; and
- portable generators priced at less than $3,000.
There's no limit on the number of qualifying items that Lone Star State shoppers can buy tax-free during the holiday. The Texas Comptroller's website has a complete list of emergency supplies that are tax-free for the next three days.
Hurricane season '17 early start: Texas' emergency supplies tax holiday's timing couldn't have been better. It came on the heels of the first named Atlantic tropical storm of 2017.
Arlene was first designated Subtropical Depression One by the National Hurricane Center just before midday on Wednesday, April 19. It strengthened into Tropical Depression One 24 hours later and was designated Tropical Storm Arlene late in the afternoon of Thursday, April 20.
The early formation of an Atlantic tropical system, however, raises the question of what that could mean for the coming Atlantic Ocean-Gulf of Mexico hurricane system, which doesn't officially start until June 1.
Not a storm season omen: Storms that form early in the year outside of the deep tropics do not necessarily foreshadow a busier hurricane season, Phil Klotzbach, a hurricane researcher with Colorado State University (CSU), told The Palm Beach Post.
"Generally, activity before August 1 doesn't correlate with the remainder of the season," Klotzbach said. "The only exception is if we get tropical cyclone activity in the deep tropics prior to August 1. Then, look out. It's probably going to be a very active season."
CSU researchers are predicting a slightly less active hurricane season this year as compared to the Atlantic's 30-year average. The Weather Channel meteorologists forecast a bit busier Atlantic-Gulf of Mexico storm season.
We'll have to wait to see how many of the remaining storm names listed below will be assigned in 2017.
Numbers alone not a problem: But the standard hurricane season castigation remains. It doesn't matter how many storms develop; it only matters how many make landfall.
In 1992, only six named storms and one subtropical storm formed. But one of those named storms was Hurricane Andrew, the Category 5 that devastated South Florida.
The 2010 hurricane season, however, was quite active. Nineteen named storms and 12 hurricanes formed in the Atlantic Basin, but not a single hurricane and only one tropical storm made landfall in the United States.
Get ready early: While it's impossible to precisely predict where storms will form or hit, it's critical that everyone living in areas where storms could land be prepared.
So sales tax holiday or not, be sure you stock up on hurricane supplies and create your disaster survival kit before the next storm forms.
The ol' blog's special Storm Warnings page has a section with links to more storm prep posts, as well as additional tax and other information related to all types of natural disasters.
As Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar noted in announcing the state's tax holiday, "Unfortunately, we can't predict when the next fire, flood or tornado may strike. But we can be prepared."
You might find these previous posts of interest:
- Take a pre-disaster inventory
- Form 4684, a disaster victim's best friend
- No escaping disasters, but tax help possible