Preparing for Hurricane and Intense Storms
The 2017 Atlantic hurricane season produced 17 named storms, 10 hurricanes and six major hurricanes, including three Category 4 hurricanes that made landfall in the United States: Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria. It was the most active season since 1936.
When it comes to hurricanes, most of the overwhelming damage, is from the "very few strongest storms," Mann said. "What matters is how many Category 3, 4, and 5 storms we get, and we're likely to see more of those storms, and more damage… as a result." —Penn State climate scientist Michael Mann
Hurricanes are massive storm systems that form over warm ocean waters and move toward land. Potential threats from hurricanes include powerful winds, heavy rainfall, storm surges, coastal and inland flooding, rip currents, tornadoes, and landslides. The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 to November 30, Although, they are most common in September and early October.
Southern New England is subject to all three hurricane threats:
- Coastal flooding due to the storm surge.
- Widespread wind damage.
- Widespread inland small stream and river flooding due to heavy rains.
Typhoons and hurricanes are both tropical cyclones with winds of at least 74 miles per hour. The only difference is where they are located. Typhoons form in the northwestern Pacific Ocean, while hurricanes occur in the Atlantic, Caribbean Sea, central and northeast Pacific.
Knowing the category of a hurricane can help you understand how threatening it may be.
Category 1: Winds range from 74 to 95 mph and can be expected to produce some minor damage to property. Injuries to people and animals are generally isolated and limited to flying or falling debris. During a Category 1 storm, protected glass windows generally remain intact. Some roof damage to frame homes, apartments, and shopping centers can also occur, as well as short-term power outages due to snapped power lines and downed trees.
Category 2: Winds range from 96 to 110 mph and can be expected to produce extensive property damage. Greater wind velocities mean that debris poses a greater threat to humans and animals, while the roofing, siding, and glass windows (protected and unprotected) of frame homes are more vulnerable to damage. In a Category 2 storm, significant structural damage to apartment buildings, mobile homes, and shopping centers is also expected, as well as flooding in low-lying areas. Extensive power outages ranging from a few days to a few weeks are common, and residents are encouraged to stock up on potable water as filtration systems also fail during this time.
Category 3: Winds ranging from 111 to 130 mph cause significant damage to property, humans, and animals. Mobile and poorly constructed frame homes are often destroyed, and even well-built frame homes commonly sustain major damage. Significant damage to apartments and shopping centers (even those made of wood or steel) can be expected. Category 3 storms can also cause extensive inland flooding. Electricity and water are commonly unavailable for several days to several weeks after the storm, therefore it’s important for residents to have their own stores of canned food and water.
Category 4: Winds range from 131 to 155 mph and can cause catastrophic damage to property, humans, and animals. Severe structural damage to frame homes, apartments, and shopping centers should be expected. Category 4 hurricanes often include long-term power outages and water shortages lasting from a few weeks to a few months, so again, it’s important for any remaining residents to have a significant nonperishable food and water supply at hand.
Category 5: Winds at or greater than 155 mph cause catastrophic damage to property, humans, and animals (read: you should be nowhere near this storm!). Complete or almost-complete destruction of mobile homes, frame homes, apartments, and shopping centers should be expected, and nearly all trees in the area will be snapped or uprooted. Power outages can last for weeks and possibly months. Long-term water shortages should be expected as well, and most of the area will be uninhabitable for weeks or months.
The strongest hurricanes, have brought severe damage to coastal locations, while totally disrupting utility power for days across the interior from downed trees and high winds. Both the stronger hurricanes and many of the weaker tropical storms have caused inland river flooding in parts of the New England. History shows that everyone living in southern New England must take tropical storms and hurricanes seriously. Whether you live along the coast, by a river or stream, or far inland, a tropical storm or hurricane striking Southern New England will affect our local area.
The Difference Between a Hurricane Watch and a Hurricane Warning
The difference is 12 HOURS. A watch is issued when a hurricane or tropical storm is possible within 36 hours. A warning is issued when those same conditions are expected within 24 hours.
It’s important to take steps while you have time before a storm arrives to protect the well-being of your family/employees and home/business.
Step 1: Have an Emergency Communication and Evacuation Plan; have a predetermined location both on your property, like the large tree in the front yard, or the family station wagon; and in your local town to meet incase an emergency causes your family to separate. It’s also a good idea to discuss a relative out of town that will be a check-in since it could be difficult to reach others in the same emergency area.
Step 2: Supplies; you should have enough supplies in your home for 72 hours for each member of your family, this includes having specialty items for babies and children or the elderly. You should also have an emergency and first aid kit for your home, your car and each person should have a personal kit for themselves. Another good thing to think about is flashlights, batteries and multiple copies of area maps.
Step 3: Insurance Coverage; consider your coverage for flooding, it’s important to have contact information incase of an emergency and make sure you know what to do if a storm causes damage to your property. If flooding is predicted try and move your vehicles to a safer location. Taking a home inventory can be as simple as snapping cell phone photos of the contents in each of your home’s rooms, and recording the item number or serial number of more important items.
Step 4: Important Documents; you should keep copies of important documents including; proof of ownership for homes, cars and other property. Make sure to keep copies of you and your families personal identification and banking information. It’s also a good idea to have some cash available, after a storm getting to an ATM or bank maybe difficult depending on the severity of the damage.
Step 5: Secure Your Property; Experts recommend piling up sandbags at least 2 feet high as an effective barricade against floodwaters. Unplug unused household electronics and appliances, if you are evacuating consider shutting off electricity. Think about trimming trees to reduce any falling limbs and cleaning up things around your home and yard like potted plants, lawn furniture and children’s toys.
Step 6: Electronic Concerns; Aside from keeping extra batteries and chargers around during a hurricane, people are also encouraged to backup any electronic devices. It’s a good idea to store your data at an off-site location.
Call in the Professionals
The effects of a storm to a homeowner can oftentimes be devastating, sustained winds and flooding can damage your home and belongings. When storm and water damage gets serious, there is really only one team to call—SERVPRO of Medford! Our team is highly qualified and trained in water restoration, our experts will come in, assess your damage, take the proper remediation steps to limit damage. We work hand in hand with your insurance company to restore your home to what it was before. Like it never even happened!
- We’re Faster to Any Size Disaster
- We provide 24-Hour Emergency Service
- We are a Trusted Leader in the Water Restoration Industry
- We are Locally Owned and Operated
Every water restoration situation is unique and we treat them that way. We are here for you in these very stressful times and we are Always Here to Help!