Hurricane Season Myths That Aren’t Mythical
September 4, 2015
With hurricane season upon us, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration shares these five myths about hurricane’s that people need to know aren’t mythical.
1. The area is under evacuation order but the weather looks great right now, so people should wait until the weather gets bad before they evacuate.
This can be one of the most dangerous decisions you can make. Evacuation orders are based on the best available information and are issued early enough to provide people with time to get to shelter. Waiting until the last minute can leave you with no escape if the storm does not behave according to forecast.
2. Only coastal areas are at risk from hurricanes.
A hurricane is not just a coastal event. The strong winds, heavy rains, tornadoes and inland flooding from weakening tropical systems can spread well inland and cause tremendous damage. For example, in 2001, heavy rainfall produced by Tropical Storm Allison caused catastrophic floods in Houston, Texas. FEMA estimated that the damages in the Houston area reached approximately $4.8 billion.
3. Winds from a hurricane can not be that much worse than winds from a summer thunderstorm.
While summer thunderstorms can produce wind gusts of more 60 miles per hour, the winds of a major hurricane can reach more than twice that speed and will be sustained for hours, much longer than a thunderstorm. Each time wind speed is doubled, the wind force increases by a factor of four. Also, minimum hurricane strength winds of 74 mph can drive a piece of 2×4 lumber through a reinforced concrete wall four inches thick.
4. The storm surge is only going to be 15 to 20 feet at worst. My condo is on the upper floor. I’m riding out the storm there.
Vertical evacuation, or escaping the rising storm surge by going to the upper stories of a building, is not always a good idea. Wind speeds increase the higher you get, so you are evacuating into a more dangerous place. Also, the high winds and water make getting help to you harder once the storm is over.
5. Why prepare for a big hurricane? When it comes, my house will be destroyed anyways.
While a hurricane’s winds can destroy even the most solidly built structures, taking some basic precautions can significantly reduce damage from a storm. Shuttering windows, bracing garage and entry doors and bringing in yard items can be the difference between destruction and minor damage.