Tag Archives: Hurricane

  • 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

  • Hurricanes: Early Arrivers Can Blow the Party

    Do you know why I like to be ready to host a party well before the guests arrive? It’s because there’s always that one person who just has to show-up super early. And, if I’m not ready by the time he shows up, he’ll make sure I’m never ready for the actual party because I’m too busy entertaining him.

    That’s what hurricane season is like. You know it’s coming, but there always seems to be that one storm that just has to be early.

    Well, folks, hurricane season is fast approaching (officially starting on June 1), and the early birds are already starting to arrive.

    Atlantic 2-Day Weather Outlook (5-8-15) Retrieved 5/8/15

    The National Hurricane Center is kind enough to provide us with a Graphical Tropical Weather Outlook of impending storms. This image was retrieved on Friday, May 08, 2015. As you can see, this looks to be quite the sub-tropical storm. Fortunately, this isn’t going to be a full-on hurricane, but it’s still going to whip your hair back and forth with a vengeance.

    This just goes to show that putting off our prep until the last moment can leave us high and dry. Er, windy and soaked? Well, you get the idea.

    trop-recent-may-storms-since-2007And this isn’t the only storm that’s wanted a head-start on the hurricane race. Since 2007, there have been three storms strong enough to be given names arrive before June 1 (only the memorable storms get names). There have been many more May storms before that, too. This particular storm we're talking about has been dubbed Ana - the first named storm of 2015.

    Now that we’re aware of these early party goers and that they can come in weeks before anticipated (which is a whole lot more rude than my hour-early party guest), we know that we’ll have to step up our A-game when it comes to preparing for hurricanes. Don’t wait, start now.

    The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) has issued a notice that, among other things, “adequate and advance preparation is one of the most significant ways Texans can help mitigate the unpredictable and dangerous nature of hurricanes.” The DPS also gave warning that hurricanes can cause massive amounts of damage even several hundred miles inland. Talk about a party crasher.

    So before a hurricane shows up, remember to take the following precautions in order to be safe and reduce damage from the storm.


    1. Emergency Kit

    No matter what the disaster, I will always tell you to have an emergency kit. You never know what kinds of incidents a hurricane can cause, so it’s best to be prepared. Be sure to have enough food and water to last you three days. Don’t forget flashlights (and batteries!), blankets, and a first aid kit. You’ll want to take care of any cuts and scrapes to avoid any infections. Check out our pre-built emergency kits, or go to ready.gov/build-a-kit for more details on how you can create your own.


    1. Secure Your Property

    Bring in any outside furniture, bicycles, or other items that aren’t secured. Cover your windows. The best option to protect your windows are permanent storm shutters. If you don’t have those, the next best option would be to use plywood, pre-cut to fit your window frame. If you have trees or shrubs, make sure they’re well-trimmed. This way they are more wind resistant and have a better chance of remaining where they were planted.


    1. Have a Plan

    If you don’t already know your community hurricane evacuation routes, be sure to start learning them. Teach your children these routes, and also help them know where to go to find higher ground.


    1. Communication

    You may not be with your family when disaster strikes. This is why it’s important to have a family communications plan. Find someone – a relative or trusted friend – that lives out of state that you can contact and notify that you’re safe. It may be easier to call out-of-town numbers than local ones. Text messages also have a better chance of going through when phone calls can’t. Have your kids memorize your number.



    We can know a hurricane is coming many days before it hits, so we don’t have to be caught off guard when it does arrive. And even though hurricanes can surprise us by showing up early, they have the decency to let us know their intent. Of course, it’s always still best to be prepared even before we are made aware of the oncoming storm. So, don’t be upset when Mother Nature crashes your party early. Be prepared, now, to be a good host when she shows up.




    Posted In: Disaster Scenarios, Emergency Kits, Planning Tagged With: party crasher, Hurricane, Prepare

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