Although it officially begins in June, hurricane season usually reaches its peak in August through October, according to the National Weather Service. Ninety-three percent of major hurricanes, or those reaching a category 3 or higher, occur between these months. For some perspective, all 10 of the costliest U.S. hurricanes on record (including Andrew, Irene, Sandy, and Katrina) have made landfall during this window. For people living on the Eastern seaboard, this means it’s time to get serious about storm preparations and have an emergency plan in place.
Why are hurricanes more likely to develop now?
Several factors contribute to the late summer rise in severe tropical storms within the Atlantic Basin. One of these is the formation of “tropical easterly waves” off the coast of Africa. These disturbances gain momentum if they are not broken up by wind shearing in their journey west, forming the seeds of hurricanes for the Caribbean and the U.S. East Coast. Calm winds throughout the Atlantic during this part of the season mean that the waves are less likely to be stopped. Water temperatures are at their warmest as well in late summer, meaning storms are more likely to develop. These conditions make it possible for highly destructive, violent storms to arise.
What can you do to prepare for peak hurricane season?
There are several ways you can protect yourself and your family as well as prepare your home in order to prevent hurricane damage. First, it is important to know the community evacuation routes so you’ll be prepared to leave if necessary. In addition, you should know the elevation levels around your home so you can predict where flooding is more likely to occur and avoid low-lying ground. It’s also necessary to have enough fresh water and nonperishable food to last several days in the event of a power outage, evacuation, or other emergency. Visit http://www.ready.gov/hurricanes for more information about emergency preparation, and put a plan in place for you and your family.
Covering windows is one of the most important parts of preparing for a storm, since they can break and allow for dangerous wind damage. Professionally installed storm shutters are the best option. You can also use 5/8” exterior grade or marine plywood to secure windows. Installing laminated glass windows with impact-resistant glazing is an excellent option to prevent storm damage. Contrary to a common myth, putting masking tape on windows does not prevent against breakage in any way, and makes for a messy cleanup afterwards.
Your home should have clips or straps on the roof trusses in the attic to secure your roof to your home’s wall structure. Keep trees and bushes around your home trimmed to minimize the potential for falling branches and debris. Garage doors should also be reinforced to prevent wind and water from coming in. After safety and evacuation procedures, preventing structural damage to your home should be your main priority when preparing for a hurricane.
Hurricanes cause severe damage and even destroy many homes each season. Fortunately, a little preparation can make the difference between losing a home and keeping it safe. Be informed this hurricane season, and be proactive when it comes to safety and security. Visit / for more information about home insurance, and don’t let hurricane season destroy your peace of mind.