Tag Archives: Hurricane

  • Tropical Storm Erika is Coming. Are You Complacent?

    After 10 years without a hurricane in Florida, residents have lost interest in preparing. With tropical storm Erika traveling up towards Southern Florida, it’s high time to prepare.

    Tropical storm Erika - Path Tropical storm Erika's projected path

    Just yesterday it was thought that tropical storm Erika was expected to become a category 1 hurricane when it reached Florida, which means it would have wind speeds between 74 and 95 miles per hour. That’s definitely enough to do quite a bit of damage. Today, however, the storm is not expected to reach hurricane strength. But that doesn't mean it won't bring strong winds and a lot of rain. As Erika passed the small Caribbean island of Dominica, it left over two dozen people dead in the wake of severe floods.

    The Orlando Sentinel reports that tropical storm Erika could find its way to South Florida by Monday morning, and if that happens, it “will be too late to start planning.”

    The lack of hurricanes for the last decade has instilled an air of “it can’t happen here, it will happen to someone else” within many of the people, according to Orlando Sentinel. For folks in Florida, the time to prepare is almost past. But there is still time.

    True, tropical storm Erika could still miss Florida and hit somewhere else, but if you were living there, would you want to wait and find out? By then it will be too late.

    Floridians, it’s high time to prepare.

    Tropical storm Erika - FloodingFor the rest of you readers out there, what have you become complacent about? Florida isn’t the only state to be effected by natural disasters. Tornadoes, floods, earthquakes, and even winter storms can really make a mess of things. And then there’s job loss, stock market crash, and other economical disasters. These can be just as bad – or worse – than the natural ones.

    According to an in-depth study in regards to people’s emergency prep, a 2012 public safety survey suggested that “despite an increase in the number of disasters, too many Americans remain disturbingly complacent.” This complacency causes a failure to act in time to sufficiently prepare.

    Now it’s time to look deep into your soul and ask yourself, “Am I too complacent?” If you are, you can start preparing now. Turn over a new leaf, if you will. If you aren’t, then congratulations! You’re an inspiration to us all. If you’re not sure, then you may need to check your emergency preparations and make sure you have what you need. Even if you aren’t complacent, it’s still wise to check over your emergency prep every so often to make sure everything is still in good condition and ready to go should a disaster happen.

    In the past, perhaps you were able to “ride out” a storm or disaster. According to the University of Buffalo, this “can lead people to feel complacent when receiving emergency warnings.” Maybe the disaster wasn’t as bad as it was broadcast to be, or maybe you were just on the outskirts of the storm. Or, perhaps the local emergency services came in to save the day. A University of Newcastle scholar is afraid that people have become too reliant on emergency services. Such overreliance “leads to a disempowered society.”

    When disasters head our way, the last thing we want to be is disempowered. Take the steps now to be prepared, so when a stronger storm than you’ve seen comes, you will be the one in power, not the disaster.

    Tropical storm Erika - Vigilance Be vigilant to disasters, both seen and unseen

    Florida may not have had a hurricane in a decade, but that doesn’t mean they’re gone for good. Just because you haven’t been in the path of a tornado doesn’t mean you won’t. As the saying goes, we’re sitting on a railroad track and the train is coming. We just don’t know when it will reach us.

    Likewise, we’re all in the path of all sorts of disasters. We just don’t know when they will hit us. National Weather Service meteorologist Will Ulrich hopes that, “regardless of [Erika] or any tropical system, people already have a plan in place.”

    And that’s our hope, too. Regardless of the disasters approaching – now or in the future – we hope you will already be prepared.


    Have you ever wished you were more prepared than you were for a disaster? What was it like? Let us know in the comments below!



    Tropical storm Erika - Hurricane Page

    Posted In: Disaster Scenarios Tagged With: economic, erika, tropical storm, preparation, Hurricane, disaster

  • 4 Hurricane Myths You Need to Know

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    Hurricane Myths - Inland Flooding Bridge Collapsed on I-10 (source: Desert Sun)

    This weekend, former Hurricane Dolores brought wild, wet weather to parched southern California and Arizona. A bridge collapsed from flooding on Interstate 10 about fifty miles from Arizona. A resulting crash injured the driver of the pickup. Eleven sites in the Los Angeles area reported record rainfall – admittedly only a bit more than a third of an inch. Still, that was enough to cause closings and damage. Rain showers caused the Los Angeles Angels’ first rainout in 20 years.

    Here’s the fun part. The closest the center of the storm got to California was 300 miles west of Baja. At the time, it was just a post-tropical low-pressure center – too weak to even be considered a tropical storm. What’s left of Dolores is causing flash flood watches into Nevada and could travel as far as the Four Corners area and southwest Colorado.


    Hurricane Myth 1

    One hurricane myth is that the most deadly part of a hurricane is the storm surge, according to a Mobile, Ala. TV station’s story on hurricane myths.

    It’s not. Inland flooding like that from Dolores’ storms is more deadly because people don’t realize how fast water is moving.


    Hurricane Myth 2

    Another is that homeowner’s insurance will cover flooding from a hurricane’s rising water.

    Homeowner’s insurance should cover damage if the roof blows off, but most policies don’t cover damage from flooding, said Chris Hackett, director of personal lines for the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America, in a story for bankrate.com.

    A separate policy is necessary, either through the National Flood Insurance Program or private flood insurance.

    Yet only 10 percent of Americans have flood insurance, according to a 2010 poll from the Insurance Information Institute.

    Hurricane Myths - New Flood PlanesFloodplains change. Fires destroy vegetation on hills and create landslide hazards. People build on former meadows, which increases runoff because water can’t soak into concrete. So a building could be in a floodplain though it wasn’t in one before. Floodsmart.gov has a tool to show if a building is in a likely flood zone.


    Hurricane Myth 3

    Another myth is that outside a high risk flood area people don’t need flood insurance. In fact, almost a quarter of claims to the NFIP come from moderate-to-low risk areas for flood. Like those where storms from Dolores are meandering. Flood insurance is not only available in those areas; it’s cheaper, according to a Federal Emergency Management Agency brochure.

    Let’s say these storms from Dolores damage a couple of buildings. The President must declare a major disaster area before most federal disaster assistance can come into play. Also, disaster assistance usually is a loan that must be paid back with interest. A U.S. Small Business Administration disaster home loan usually lasts 30 years. A $50,000 loan at 4 percent interest costs $240 per month during that period. The average NFIP premium, on the other hand, is about $500 per year, according to FEMA.

    NFIP flood insurance provides up to $250,000 worth of coverage for a home and $500,000 for a business. It can cover possessions up to $100,000, so renters can get just that coverage.

    It does not cover improvements to basements, like carpeting and painting, though the insurance will pay for equipment like a furnace in the basement. It also won’t cover property improvements outside a home, loss of business, or temporary housing.


    Hurricane Myth 4

    Oh, and one more hurricane myth. Hurricane insurance. The truth is - except in rare cases - flood insurance doesn’t kick in until 30 days after purchase. So buying it when the hurricane is bearing down probably won’t help.


    - Melissa


    Hurricane Myths

    Posted In: Disaster Scenarios, Planning Tagged With: flood plain, myth, storm surge, Hurricane, preparedness

  • Avoid These 3 Hurricane Hazards

    Have you heard the one about hurricanes in the middle of a drought? They’re called “The Carolina Hurricanes,” and their 6-year playoff drought is a real disaster. But hurricane (and hockey) jokes aside, let’s get down to business: hurricane hazards.

    Famous for torrential rain and lashing winds, do you know where most hurricane damage occurs? If you say flooding, you’re right! You rocked it, as they say, like a hurricane! Most hurricane damage is caused by flooding, and not generally from the rainfall, but from rising ocean levels called “storm surge.” This storm surge affects more than those on the coast, too; storm surges can penetrate many miles inland, as we recently witnessed in New Jersey during hurricane Sandy.


    1. Storm Surge

    Hurricane Hazards - Storm Surge National Hurricane Center

    A storm surge is a huge wave of water caused by a storm’s strong winds. They can reach as high as 20 feet and can span hundreds of miles of coastline. Storm surges can damage buildings, erode and cause damage to beaches, and are one of the leading causes of death during hurricanes.

    A prime example of the devastation a surge can cause is in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. According to the National Hurricane Center, “at least 1500 persons lost their lives during Katrina and many of those deaths occurred directly, or indirectly, as a result of storm surge.” This is one reason those ordered by government officials to evacuate should do so without delay. Staying behind could be disastrous.

    Because it’s easier to visualize a storm surge with, well, visuals, I have a couple videos that will help you understand what they are and how you can prepare. You can find a link to the second one on the banner at the bottom of this post. This first video, however, is right here, and comes to you from the U.S. National Weather Service will help you learn more about storm surges and where to go for more information regarding this hazard:

    Ready.gov and the National Weather Service have some great information on hurricanes hazards and how we can be ready.


    Before, during, and after a hurricane, keep an ear to your radio for updates from local authorities. Storm surges can quickly cut off escape routes, so if you hear the notice to evacuate, do so immediately before your evacuation route gets blocked by the surge. And whatever you do, please don't drive through flooded streets. You don't want to be caught trapped in a drifting vehicle.

    Besides storm surges, there are many other hazards associated with hurricanes. As if being in a hurricane isn’t disaster enough, tornadoes are also a common inland occurrence that accompany hurricanes. In fact, the National Weather Service claims that “in recorded history, almost every tropical storm and hurricane that has come onshore in the U.S. has produced a tornado.”


    2. Rip Currents

    Hurricane Hazards: Rip Currents NOAA.gov

    Another hurricane hazard is rip currents. Rip currents aren’t your ordinary ocean shoreline current. Strong winds can almost reverse the natural shoreline waves that, instead of pulling water towards shore, actually pull away from shore. These currents are deadly, and hurricanes can produce these currents at our shores from hundreds of miles away. For example, the National Hurricane Center reported that “in 2008, despite the fact that Hurricane Bertha was more than a 1,000 miles offshore, the storm resulted in rip currents that killed three people along the New Jersey coast and required 1,500 lifeguard rescues in Ocean City, Maryland, over a 1 week period.”

    Even 1,000 miles offshore, Bertha produced strong rip currents that effected swimmers on the shores for over a week! That right there is a great reason to always check the water conditions before you hit the beach. After all, rip currents often form on calm, sunny days.

    If you do find yourself caught in a rip tide, don't fight it directly. Instead, swim sideways. Once you're out of the rip current, swim at an angle towards shore.


    3. High Winds

    Hurricane Hazards: Winds The Telegraph

    This article on hurricane hazards just wouldn’t be complete without talking about the high winds that accompany hurricanes. A category 1 hurricane starts with wind speeds of 74-95mph. As the wind speeds increase, so does the category number, until it reaches category 5, which is 157 mph and higher. Even a category 1 hurricane will have dangerous winds that will produce damage. As the category number rises, so will the damage it causes. Check out this link here for more information on hurricane categories, their wind speeds, and what to expect from the damage they will cause.

    If you do find yourself in or around a hurricane, seek shelter immediately. Go indoors and stay away from windows. And don't venture outside just to see what such high winds feel like. That's a recipe for getting pummeled by flying objects.


    Hurricanes do have something of a bright side. Unlike tornadoes and earthquakes, this natural disaster tends to give us several days’ notice, so there should be time to board up, alert the family and evacuate if need be. However, don’t expect to be able to stock-up once news of a hurricane hits; stores will be picked bare within an hour of when ground zero is identified.

    Knowing hurricane hazards can keep you safe during the storm.


    How do you prepare for these hazards? Let us know your thoughts in comments!


    Posted In: Disaster Scenarios Tagged With: storm surge, winds, rip current, hurricane hazards, Hurricane

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