Hurricane Preparedness and Safety Tips
Homeowners who live in areas prone to major hurricanes or other tropical storms may be familiar with peak hurricane season and what needs to be done to avoid extensive wind and water damage to their homes. But many homeowners who may be considering moving to these areas may be left with a variety of questions, including "Where do hurricanes happen?", "When is hurricane season over?" and "How long is hurricane season?" Even people who were not previously in hurricane-prone areas may need this information as weather patterns change - such as Hurricane Sandy landing directly in New York City in 2012 and causing damage all the way to Michigan and Wisconsin.
ServiceMaster Restore is here to answer your questions about hurricanes to better understand the potential damage you may encounter and the necessary steps you need to take if you're affected and in need of commercial or residential hurricane damage restoration.
When Does Hurricane Season Start?
The 2022 Atlantic Hurricane Season begins June 1st and continues through November, according to the National Hurricane Center. Even though tropical storms and hurricanes have occurred in May and December, 97% of tropical activity occurs through the official hurricane season, of June 1st – November 30th.
However, hurricanes and severe storms with sustained winds are unpredictable, and the timing of hurricane formations depends on a variety of factors. Some of these factors include water temperature, wind shear, and other variables that are closely monitored by experts throughout the year in an attempt to predict their occurrence. Climate patterns can also provide a hint as to how damaging hurricanes may be during the season. These patterns provide an idea of how the wind and pressure forms will function for the upcoming year, with two climate patterns being the most dominant: El Niño/La Niña and the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO).
El Niño sees warmer water across the northwestern coast of South America, which reduces the likelihood of hurricanes across the Atlantic. In comparison, La Niña creates a favorable condition for hurricanes, which could spell trouble for home and business owners along the coasts. The Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO) is associated with warmer waters in the Atlantic and lasts between 55 to 70 years. AMO has been active since 1995 and is expected to continue for a sometime.
What Months are Hurricane Season?
Officially, hurricane season starts June 1st and lasts through November 30th. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts an above-normal Atlantic hurricane season for 2022. Forecasters from NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center are predicting above – average hurricane activity this year, which would make it the seventh consecutive above average hurricane season. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts an overall season activity of the following: 14-21 named storms, 6-10 hurricanes, including 3-6 major hurricanes of a category 3 or higher. To be fair, this is not a prediction of landfall activity, but overall seasonal activity, of which the Climate Prediction Center will update again in August, prior to the peak of hurricane season. If you’re curious how accurate these predictions are, for the 2021 season NOAA’s May prediction was 13-20 named storms, and 6-10 hurricanes, including 3-5 major hurricanes. Last year’s hurricane season came to end on November 30th, 2021, with a total of 21 named storms, including 7 hurricanes, 4 of which were major hurricanes. Making their prediction pretty spot on. 2021 was the third most active year on record in terms of named storms and was the sixth consecutive above-normal Atlantic hurricane season.
When is Hurricane Season in Florida?
The Atlantic hurricane season is June 1 to November 30 every year — but the last several years were an exception for the Sunshine State — with storms starting to form around Florida by mid-May. August and September are typically the most active months for tropical storms in Florida.
During hurricane season, the Sunshine State faces greater hurricane risk than any other U.S. state. Of the 301 hurricanes that have made landfall in the U.S. since 1851, 120 have hit Florida — almost double that of Texas, the second most hurricane-prone state.
When you consider that 1,350 miles of Florida border the Gulf and Atlantic Coasts, it’s extra important for residents to prepare for hurricane season. That means creating an emergency plan, fortifying your property, and making sure you’re fully covered with home and flood insurance.
When Does Hurricane Season End?
The Atlantic Hurricane Season ends on November 30th. However, there are six other hurricane seasons around the world, each with their own typical start and end time. For example, the Australian/Southwest Pacific Cyclone Season starts in November and ends in late April, while the Northwest Pacific Typhoon Season occurs all year long.
To determine the intensity and duration of a hurricane season, meteorologists make predictions based on a variety of factors. Two forecasts are issued, once in April or May before the start of the Atlantic Hurricane Season, and once more in August before the peak of hurricane season in September. Climate change is also a factor that may affect the frequency and intensity of hurricanes, although ongoing research is being done to determine how this could affect future major hurricanes.
When taking preparation for hurricanes into consideration, one of the first things to determine is how likely your location is to be affected by them. Hurricanes affect coastal areas the most, but there are specific cities and regions that are the most heavily impacted. According to the National Hurricane Center, Florida is the state most often hit by hurricanes. This heavy impact is due mainly to it being a peninsula and located in an area that is in the path of most hurricanes. North Carolina is also prone to major hurricane damage, but in terms of hurricane damage to properties it’s surpassed not only by Florida, but also by Texas and Louisiana. Some of the most damaging hurricanes have occurred in these areas, with hurricane Harvey tying hurricane Katrina as the costliest Atlantic hurricanes in U.S. history.
Another factor to consider is what types of damage can a hurricane cause to your home or business. Hurricanes are violent and can lead to uprooted trees, broken power lines, and severe flooding damage. Uprooted trees can cause damage to your home's walls or break windows as they fall, which is especially dangerous if the storm hasn't ended as it may lead to water damage in your home. Severe flood damage can occur in these situations, causing damage to the structure of your home, health, and safety risks due to the sanitary hazards in the water, and potential mold issues if the water is not removed properly.
It may seem impossible to prepare for the extensive damage a hurricane can cause. Although you can’t stop a hurricane from coming, there are hurricane safety tips and steps you can take ahead of time, that will help protect your home and family throughout hurricane season. Doing so can help prepare you for the potential danger that a hurricane can cause, including falling debris, flooding, roof damage, power outages (possibly lasting for weeks), loss of clean water and severe structural damage to homes and buildings.
Start With These Seven Hurricane Safety Tips:
1. Know Your Risk. Find out if your area is susceptible to hurricanes and flooding. As a general rule, hurricanes typically affect all Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coastal areas, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Hawaii, parts of the Southwest, the Pacific Coast, and the U.S. territories of the Pacific.
2. Learn About Your Community. Contact your local emergency management system to find out if pre-existing hurricane evacuation routes exist in your community. You should also identify any secondary escape routes you can take in case roads are blocked during the hurricane. Finally, get maps of the community's hurricane shelters so you know where you can seek refuge during a disaster if you don't have enough time to leave the area.
3. Make An Emergency Kit. An emergency kit can be a life saver in dangerous hurricane situations. Stock it with non-perishable food, bottled water, batteries, flashlights, first aid supplies and medication, pet supplies and anything else you may need if you have to leave your home quickly. Store all of your emergency items in a waterproof and lightweight container. Then, place it somewhere that can be easily accessed during an evacuation, like your car or front coat closet.
4. Prepare Your Home or Building. You can reduce the risk of damage to your home by reinforcing certain areas, including your doors, windows, walls, and roof. Removing or securing outdoor items can also keep your home's structural integrity intact. Finally, protect your home from flood damage by waterproofing your basement and elevating all critical utilities.
5. Create an Emergency Communication Plan. Usually, hurricanes can be detected and tracked days before they actually hit the ground, so you'll have plenty of advance notice to start putting your disaster-response plan in motion. However, in the event that your family isn't together when the evacuation orders are given, it's important that everybody knows how to get in contact with each other and where you all plan to meet. Your communication plan should identify safe meeting places within the town, as well as places your family can meet outside of the city in case evacuation orders require you to stay away for long periods of time.
6. Learn What To Do Before, During and After a Hurricane. Ready.gov has a detailed list of what to do when a hurricane approaches, strikes, and recedes. Share information with your loved ones about the differences between hurricane watches and hurricane warnings, as well as what to do at each stage of an approaching hurricane, so that you can prepare to prep for the worst. Then, identify key things you should do when it's time to evacuate in the face of a hurricane. Finally, learn what to do after a hurricane to keep your family and your home safe throughout the process.
7. Practice, Practice, Practice. Rehearse taking shelter and practice how you will communicate with family members. That way, everyone will feel confident that they'll know exactly what to do if a hurricane hits your area. You may find that your hurricane preparedness plan is lacking in some areas and needs adjustments before an actual hurricane hits. While there are many myths about hurricanes out there that make these natural disasters even more terrifying to think about, knowing what to do before one strikes can help keep you safe. If you and your family are ready with a thorough hurricane preparation and response plan, you'll be able to anticipate, respond to and recover from the effects of a hurricane with confidence.
In the midst of hurricane season, it may seem like everyone is out fighting for the last set of survival supplies. With terrible storms approaching and stores running low on essential items, you want to ensure that you’re prepared well in advance. Use the hurricane supply checklist from the experts at ServiceMaster Restore to help ensure that you’ll have everything you need if the unexpected happens. While your hurricane kit may be similar to a general emergency supply kit, the disastrous nature of hurricanes and the season in which they occur bring unique challenges that must be addressed. Customize your disaster kit or create a new hurricane-specific emergency kit that includes the following items at a minimum:
- Food: non-perishable, high-energy foods, canned fruits, vegetables, meats and ready to eat meals, protein bars, trail mix, peanut butter, infant formula/baby food if necessary.
- Water: 1 gallon per person, per day that you plan on being away and sanitation tablets in case you run out of safe drinking water.
- Clothing: 1 change of clothes in sealed, dry bags, 1 pair of rubber sole shoes, 1 jacket/sweater for each person. Along with ponchos, sleeping bags and/or blankets.
- Sanitation and Health: emergency first aid lit, prescriptions, bleach, feminine supplies, moist towelettes, trash bags, breathing masks, and insect repellent.
- Tools and Other Essentials: money, important documents/identification, map of evacuation routes/plans, portable radio, flashlights, extra batteries, waterproof matches, whistle, multi-tool, can-opener, portable chargers.
- Kids’ Supplies: diapers and wipes, small toys/activities, comfort items, and additional child specific snacks.
- Pets: collars with ID tags, leashes, carriers, pet food, bowl for water.
During the off-season, you can store your hurricane essentials in a sturdy, waterproof container. If hurricane season is starting and you suspect that one may hit within the next few weeks, transfer your essentials into easy-to-carry backpacks or durable bags with handles. That way, everyone can help carry the load if you need to evacuate the area quickly. Preparing a hurricane disaster kit before the storm can make all the difference in your family’s safety.