Hurricane Hazards


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. . . Do You Know Them

Hurricanes do bring along with them many different hazards, there’s high winds, storm surges, flooding and tornadoes. Of course, what this really means is that your family hurricane survival plan needs to take into account the possibility of encountering any of these different hurricane hazards at any time. Scary . . . you bet it is!

High Winds & Hurricanes – the wind speed is major method of categorizing a hurricane, a hurricane isn’t even a hurricane until it gets up to wind speeds of 74 miles per hour or more, but for it to be a category 5 hurricane (they’re the big ones) the wind speeds exceed an outrageous 155 miles per hour, some by quite a long way. These high hurricane winds can easily wipe out buildings which are of poor construction, mobile homes, roofing materials, and many small items which have been left outside can be picked up and turned into flying missiles. High risk buildings are particularly vulnerable to strong winds too with windows being blown out (don’t forget to fit your hurricane shutters).

Protection from High Hurricane Winds

    • Check that your home meets all of the required high wind building code requirements, those which do have a much greater chance of survival.
    • Protect your windows with either commercially prepared and installed hurricane shutters or make some 5/8″ plywood panels yourself.
    • Reinforce your garage door to withstand the high winds. Garage doors are often the first part of your property to give under the strain of high hurricane winds.
    • Just so long as you don’t live in a mobile home or evacuation zone you should designate an interior room which doesn’t have windows or external doors to be your family safe room.
    • Make sure that your trees and shrubs are well trimmed, and remove any dead trees which might be close to your home.

That wind was 45 miles per hour, imagine that plus another 100 miles per hour . . .


Storm Surges & Hurricanes – are the greatest cause of death and destruction in a hurricane, particularly along the coastal areas but the effects of a storm surge can reach hundreds of miles inland too.  A storm surge is simply an enormous wall of water . . . some of them more than 20 feet high and hundreds of miles across . . . being pushed onto the land taking anything in their path along with them and causing flooding for hundreds of miles. Thousands of people live in coastal areas less than 10 feet above normal sea level, not a good prospect is it?

Inland Flooding & Hurricanes – you might be surprised to hear that during the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s more than half of the deaths which were associated with hurricanes and tropical cyclones were caused by inland flooding.  This can even happen during one of the weaker storms which drift slowly over an area rather than whizzing past at 100 miles per hour. The rainfall is generally heavier with storms which are moving at less than 10 miles per hour.

Protection from Inland Flooding & Hurricanes

  • Word association – associate the word hurricane with inland flooding
  • Find out whether you actually live in a flood zone
  • If you’re ever told to leave, leave quick . . .
  • Move yourself and your family to a safe area before you become trapped by flood water
  • Never try to cross flowing water, you can lose control of the vehicle in only 6 inches of water
  • Have a hurricane flood emergency plan
  • Make sure that your have adequate flood insurance

Tornadoes & Hurricanes

Tornadoes can be another hazard which adds to the destructive power of a hurricane. They are most likely to happen in the right front quadrant of the hurricane but don’t let that fool you, they can also occur in other places which are well away from the hurricane center. Some hurricanes spawn lots of tornadoes, others don’t have any at all. Tornadoes are not always easy to spot either, the tornadoes associated with hurricanes don’t usually come with lightening and hail storms and can occur a few days after the landfall. Tornadoes can happen during the night or at day time, so what can you do to protect yourself and your home?

Protection from Tornadoes & Hurricanes

      • Keep well informed with the NOAA weather radio
      • If there is a tornado watch issued be ready to take action . . . immediately
      • If a tornado is imminent then stay away from the windows and move to an interior room if possible
      • As a last resort, find a place under heavy furniture and stay well away from windows

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