Severe Weather Risks in the U.S.

In the U.S., the most dangerous types of storms are hurricanes and severe thunderstorms, which produce tornadoes and hail.

Hurricane Risks

Hurricanes are the most dramatic weather events that strike U.S. coastal states. The primary sources of damage during a hurricane are high winds, flying debris, flooding and downed power lines. Cars, buildings, businesses and homes can all sustain serious damage by hurricanes.

The best measure to reduce the annual cost associated with the damage and devastation caused by hurricanes is to be prepared. There are many construction measures that can be taken to reduce the effects of hurricanes, such as storm shutters covering exposed glass and hurricane roof straps. Also, taking measures to be prepared for severe flooding can help to reduce the damage and costs associated with hurricane damage.

Typical hurricane seasons in the U.S. begin June 1st and end on November 30th. High risk areas include the Atlantic and Eastern Pacific coasts – this also includes Gulf States. To learn more about Hurricane prediction and alert systems, visit the National Weather Service’s National Hurricane Center.

Tornado Risks

Tornadoes are becoming more and more common in the U.S. in areas outside of what is known as “Tornado Alley”. Tornadoes and severe thunderstorms account for more than 50% of all insured losses in the U.S. each year. For more information about tornadoes in your area, you can use the following interactive map at The Weather Channel’s online site.

The two most common warnings you will hear regarding tornadoes are:

Tornado Watch – When weather conditions indicate a high probability that a tornado could occur

Tornado Warning – This warning is given if a tornado has been spotted or has been picked up by weather radar

If you are in an area with an active tornado watch, keep an eye out for threatening looking skies and be prepared to take additional safety steps if you see a tornado or if a tornado warning is issued for your vicinity. Also, keep in mind that tornadoes can develop faster than any warning system can alert you. Always have a disaster safety plan prepared for you and your family.

Hail Storm Risks

Hail storms are one of the most frequent types of severe storms that cause property damage in the U.S.

If your area is hit by a severe hailstorm, make personal safety your top priority. Large hailstones, that can be as large as a baseball, can cause serious injuries, even death, so it's important to find shelter immediately.

Hailstorms are often accompanied by lightning and fierce winds, which also pose serious dangers to your personal safety. After the storm passes, you'll want to assess the damage to your property, but be careful. There may be broken glass, tree branches, debris, and in the case of high winds, downed power lines.

If your windows have been broken by high winds or wind-driven hail, you'll want to cover them with plywood and tarps until you can get an insurance restoration contractor to properly assess the damage to your home.

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The National Storm Damage Center provides everything you need to prepare for and recover from severe storm damage.