The Most Dangerous Features of Hurricanes

As the 2018 Atlantic Hurricane season begins to bring storms towards the East Coast, residents are eager to prepare for what might be coming their way. Hurricanes are categorized on a scale of one to five, based on their sustained wind speed, which estimates the amount of wind damage that they are capable of inflicting following landfall. Categories one and two are not considered major hurricanes, but indicate that minor to significant wind damage may occur. Categories three through five are considered major hurricanes, and describe the possible wind damage as extreme, devastating and catastrophic, respectively.

While wind is one of the most well-known characteristics of a hurricane, it’s not the only cause of damage and devastation to people and property. Below are some of the most dangerous features of hurricanes.

1. Tornadoes

Some of the most powerful wind damage that occurs during a hurricane is due to the resulting tornadoes that are spawned. Though tornadoes that occur during a hurricane are relatively small and short-lived compared to the ones that occur often in the Midwest, these hurricane- spawned tornadoes can still cause severe damage to people and property. Hurricanes can produce tornadoes both during the storm and for a few days after, so it’s important for residents to secure or bring in their outdoor property to prevent their belongings from becoming projectiles.

Tornadoes are not always considered during hurricane preparation, as the average hurricane only spawns a handful of them, but the right conditions can create many tornadoes. Last year, 54 hurricanes were spawned during Hurricane Harvey. The record for the most tornadoes spawned during a hurricane’s lifetime goes to Hurricane Ivan, which spawned a total of 120 tornadoes in 2004.

2. Flooding

Flooding is the number one natural hazard risk in the U.S., and floods can affect both coastal and inland residents during and after a hurricane. Flash flooding, defined as a rapid rise in water levels, often occurs due to the intense rainfall brought by a hurricane. Longer term flooding near the banks of rivers and streams can persist for several days to follow. Storm surges in coastal areas can also cause flooding in coastal properties.

3. Storm Surges

A storm surge is defined as “an abnormal rise of water generated by a storm, over and above the predicted astronomical tides.” The resulting rise in water levels can cause massive flooding in coastal areas and the results can be catastrophic for coastal buildings, vehicles, boats and anything else in the path of the water. The National Hurricane Center (NHC) notes that much of the United States’ densely populated Atlantic and Gulf Coast coastlines lie less than 10 feet above the average sea level, increasing the likelihood of storm surge related damages during a major storm. The NHC considers storm surges to be one of the greatest threats of hurricanes, and estimates that about 50% of all deaths from hurricanes in the U.S. are due to storm surges.

One deadly example is Hurricane Katrina in 2005, storm surges produced by the massive Category 5 hurricane contributed to at least 1,5000 deaths.

While hurricanes can cause damage and destructive in multiple ways, being aware of the possible hazards and preparing for them physically and with hurricane insurance can prevent homeowners from enduring severe financial damage on top of everything else.

About Wilmington Insurance Agency

Wilmington Insurance Agency delivers comprehensive coastal property solutions. We are a Managing General Agency and provide independent insurance agents with property and liability insurance solutions for residents and businesses primarily in Maryland and Virginia. We work alongside our sister company, Wilmington Insurance Company, established in 1996 and providing Property & Casualty commercial lines business, homeowners, and condominium insurance in the state of Delaware. To learn more about how we can help you to expand your book of business in the coastal market, contact us at (302) 231-2800.