Preparing for Tropical Storms and Hurricanes: Are You Ready for The Season Within The Season?
If you live or work in the Atlantic hurricane region, you should already know that hurricane season officially starts June 1st. You should also know that Fourth of July fireworks do more than mark the passing of another Independence Day. They also signal the rapid approaching peak of hurricane season.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, tropical activity spikes from mid-August through mid-October. This period is often referred to as "the season within the season." This does not mean it's time to panic. Instead, it's time to make sure your plans and protective measures will be ready to go on a moment's notice if a storm is coming your way.
For the 2017 Atlantic Hurricane Season, NOAA predicts a:
- 45% chance of an above-normal season
- 35% chance of a near-normal season
- 20% chance of a below-normal season
NOAA forecasters also predict a 70% likelihood of:
- 11 – 17 Named Storms (winds of 39 mph or higher)
- 5 – 9 Hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher)
- 2 – 4 Major Hurricanes (winds of 111 mph or higher)
Although these predictions do not include Tropical Storm Cindy, which made landfall in the Gulf of Mexico on June 22nd, they do include pre-season Tropical Storm Arlene, which formed over the eastern Atlantic in April. An average season produces 12 named storms, six of which become hurricanes, including three major hurricanes.
A strong El Nino and wind shear typically suppress the development of Atlantic hurricanes. Warmer sea surface temperatures tend to fuel hurricanes. However, NOAA is expecting "a weak or non-existing El Nino, near- or above-average sea-surface temperatures … and average or weaker-than-average vertical wind shear."
Regardless of predictions, it's better to be safe than sorry, so here are a few tips that can help protect you, your home and your business during and after a storm.
Before the Storm
- Monitor the news to allow time to prepare.
- Identify tools and equipment that will be needed to secure property before and recover after the storm (flashlights, batteries, caulking, tarpaulins, sandbags, cutting and fastening equipment, etc.).
- Clear drains and down spouts to minimize the risk of flooding.
- Unplug electrical equipment and move items inside and away from windows
- Check and secure all documents and records.
- Take or update photographs of real and personal property.
- Gather insurance policies and agent / insurer contact information.
After the Storm
- Only after it has been declared safe to do so , take reasonably necessary steps to protect against any further property damage.
- Report failed power lines to the power company immediately. Stay away from them!
- Check outer walls and roof for damage.
- Check interior perimeter walls, floors and roof for leaks and water damage.
- Document all damage with photographs and video.
- Prepare detailed damage reports.
- Call your insurance company or agent as soon as possible to report damage.
Protective measures taken before a storm are important, but they may not always be enough. It's important to also have adequate insurance to cover loss or damage to homes, cars, business and personal property. But, do not delay. By the time it looks like a storm is coming your way, it may already be too late.
Remember, it only takes one tropical storm or hurricane heading your way to make it an active season for you. If you have any doubts about this, just ask those who were already hit by Tropical Storm Cindy.