Hurricanes are some of the most powerful and wildly destructive storm systems on earth. In 2005, the well documented Hurricane Katrina that ravaged Louisiana caused more than $75 billion in property damage with estimated economic impacts of more than $160 Billion.
Since the 1900, Hurricanes have claimed the lives of more than 15,000 people in the U.S.
What Is a Hurricane
A Hurricane is the most powerful classification given to a tropical cyclone. Characterized by low barometric pressure systems, extremely high winds, heavy rainfall and storm surges and swells - hurricanes that make landfall can be extremely destructive.
Hurricanes are broken up into categories depending on their severity. Below is a simple explanation of how hurricanes are categorized:
- Category 1 - Wind speeds between 74 and 95 MPH with likely storm surges up to 5 feet
- Category 2 - Wind speeds between 96 and 110 MPH with likely storm surges up to 8 feet
- Category 3 - Wind speeds between 111 and 130 MPH with likely storm surges up to 12 feet
- Category 4 - Wind speeds between 131 and 155 MPH with likely storm surges up to 18 feet
- Category 5 - Wind speeds greater than 156 MPH and likely storm surges up to 19+ feet
A hurricane is made up of several parts including the "Eye" which is the low pressure center of the storm. This part of the storm is usually an extreme contrast to the turbulence of the actual storm where wind conditions are calm with a clear sky above. Outside the "Eye" is the "Eyewall". The "Eyewall" is the storm area surrounding the eye which usually contains the most intense thunderstorms, the heaviest rain, and the greatest turbulence.
How Hurricanes Are Named
All tropical storms are named based off of six predetermined lists of names that get recycled every six years. The list of names is maintained and updated through a strict procedure by an international committee of the World Meteorological Organization. Occasionally, when a hurricane is so devastating that it would be insensitive to re-use the name - that name will be dropped from the list and "retired". You can learn more about hurricane naming conventions here.
Common Types of Hurricane Damage
The two primary causes of damage during a tropical cyclone are wind and water.
- Wind Damage - high winds, flying debris, etc.
- Water Damage - heavy rain, storm surges, large waves and swells, mud slides
Wind Damage and Flying Debris
One of the primary characteristics of a hurricane is extremely high winds. Below are the main types of damage you could expect if you are in an area hit by a hurricane.
- Roof Damage: High speed winds can dislodge shingles and other roofing materials without impact from outside forces. Also, wind storms often knock down trees and limbs while sending dangerous, flying debris over long distances. If any of debris impacts a residential or commercial property, it can cause extensive damage to the roof and other parts of the structure. Gutter damage is common from both debris impact and from buildup of airborne debris in the gutters. Learn more about roof damage.
- Window and Siding Damage: Flying debris can and does cause significant damage to the sides of houses and buildings. For example, tree branches striking a window at 30 miles per hour will almost certainly break the window. Siding is susceptible to this same type of damage. Learn more about window damage and siding damage.
- AC / HVAC Damage: External heating and cooling units are at risk from flying debris and falling trees or branches.
- Property Damage: Expect to have a large amount of debris to clean up on your property after severe wind storms.
- Automobile Damage: Automobile damage is very common during wind storms. Broken windows, dents, scratches and paint damage occur often. If you can, park automobiles in a garage or cover them with a car cover for some level of protection against the elements.
Water Damage Including Heavy Rain, Storm Surges and Mud Slides
The other primary element that causes damage during a hurricane is water. Below are the main types of damage you could expect if you are in an area hit by a hurricane.
- Flooding - Floods can cause all kinds of serious damage including flooded basements, ruined furniture, damage to your home’s exterior and landscaping, and much more. To learn more about preparing for and repairing flood damage, click here.
- Mold - The moisture caused by heavy rains and flooding can create a breeding ground for mold. Mold can be hazardous to your health and your home and should be protected against.
- Interior Damage - When your house floods, often times, the flooding can cause significant damage to interior walls, carpeting, flooring, and furniture.
- Sewage Backup - Heavy rains and flooding can also cause sewage backup in your home. During heavy rains, storm water can enter sanitary sewers and cause backups into a house or connected houses through overloading of the main lines.
Hurricane Safety and Preparation
Here are some tips to help you prepare for Tropical storms and other cyclones such as Hurricanes:
- Have supplies on-hand to board and barricade your home / office
- Have fresh drinking water readily available and stored somewhere safe
- Have battery operated TV or Radio and extra batteries
- Keep food stored that does not need to be cooked or refrigerated
- Evacuate coastal areas or areas facing severe weather
- Make sure your insurance policy protects you as much as possible from Tropical Storms and Hurricanes
- Make sure gas tanks are full
- Have extra cash handy
- Make sure you are aware of flood dangers
- Have a first aid kit handy
And just to be safe, here are some tips to help you prepare for flooding:
- Clean gutters regularly, keep them free of leaves and other debris.
- Check storm drains near your home or business and remove any debris, including leaves, plastic bags and trash bags.
- If needed, use a screwdriver to remove storm drain covers. Use your hands or a small garden trowel to remove any debris blocking the drain.
- After removing debris, scrub the inside of the drain with cleanser and a brush. This will ensure incoming water can drain as quickly as possible.
- Make sure outdoor drains, including window wells and basement stairwells are clean and functional.
Hurricane Damage Restoration Information
Hurricanes can be wildly destructive, especially in areas directly hit by the full force of the storm. Below are some links that will help you during the process of tropical storm damage restoration and repair:
Who is the National Storm Damage Center?
The National Storm Damage Center is an online resource for homeowners and business owners who are located in storm prone areas or are dealing with the effects of a recent storm.
We are here to bridge the gap between customers in need of storm damage repair and reputable contractors familiar with the insurance claim process.
If you would like help with your claim and repair process if you request a free damage inspection from the National Storm Damage Center you can be sure your contractors has passed a rigorous background investigation and has committed to uphold a strict code of ethics.