As the 2019 Hurricane Season winds down to all but a total stop, it’s the time of year at which we reflect upon the most stressful season for Floridians. From Palm Beach to Miami and beyond, some of the most beautiful areas of Florida have been victims of hurricane impact.
Let’s walk through the 2019 Hurricane Season in a sort of retrospective now that it’s over, and discuss some of the best ways that you can protect yourself from lasting impact once the storms have passed. This Hurricane Season may be over, but it certainly won’t be the last.
Heavy-Hitting Storms of 2019
Something that has almost become standard, the 2019 Hurricane Season didn’t waste any time heating up as Hurricane Barry struck the Gulf area in early July. Of course, this didn’t directly affect Atlantic South Floridians, but it certainly served as a stark reminder that these storms weren’t going to take it easy in 2019.
Less than a month and a half later, Hurricane Dorian strengthened to a hurricane from a tropical storm. By the time Dorian made landfall in the Bahamas on September 1st, it had become a Category 5 Hurricane. Total destruction was left in the storm’s wake, and it wasn’t done just yet.
Dorian didn’t make landfall again until it had reached South Carolina as a Category 1 hurricane, but that doesn’t mean it spared South Florida from its effects. Though Dorian never actually “hit” Florida literally, communities all up the Atlantic coast experienced the ravages of the storm. From rough waters, incredibly strong winds, power outages, and more, Dorian flexed its prowess while staying an arm’s length away from the land itself.
In these situations, where a storm maintains its distance while traveling up the coast, major damage can still occur. Even if the hurricane doesn’t hit Florida, many of us have already evacuated or spent hours trying to piece together our hurricane shutters!
A few other tropical storms and sea-locked hurricanes formed over the few months that followed, but there’s no denying that Dorian was the most noteworthy storm of the season. So, with a seemingly continuous bombardment of strong hurricanes hitting South Florida each year, what can residents expect in the future, and how can they prepare to weather the storm?
Looking Beyond The 2019 Hurricane Season
Lifelong Floridians might be quick to point out that there have always been this many hurricanes in the area—its simply a hazard of living in one of the most beautiful places on Earth. While that is true, the same number of storms are intensifying and causing more extensive damage.
To break this concept down further, six Atlantic hurricanes has been the yearly average since 1970. However, more hurricanes are making landfall at high strength more often than in the past. For example, in 2017 there were 3 different incredibly damaging hurricanes in the Southern United States.
There are a number of factors influencing this increased intensity. Some of it simply has to do with the natural ebb and flow of weather patterns; Florida had been in a sort of hurricane “drought” since Hurricane Wilma up until a few years ago, but the other shoe inevitably drops simply due to the way that weather patterns work in the area.
On the other hand, human influence certainly has a hand in hurricane intensity, too. A warmer atmosphere means more moisture in the air (and therefore more moisture for the storm to feed upon), and a larger band where hurricanes can form and thrive. This facilitates greater flooding, more rapid intensifying, and just generally greater destruction.
Of course, all of this matters very little when you’re in the throes of a hurricane. All that matters at that point is ensuring that you and your family are safe. This is precisely why it’s so troubling that experts assert that coastal cities are woefully underprepared for the increased intensity of hurricanes in years to come. So, how can you ensure that you are, in fact, prepared for storms that will inevitably arrive in the coming years? More easily than you might imagine.
Staying Compliant, Staying Safe
As you might imagine, the state of Florida doesn’t want you or your property to be left open to damage in the event of a hurricane. As such, the state’s building codes have stringent requirements in areas designated as wind-borne debris regions.
A wind-borne debris region (in Florida) can be defined in two ways. The simplest version is explained as any location where wind speed exceeds 140 mph. Additionally, any area within a mile of the coastal mean high water line where wind speed is at least 130 mph is considered a wind-borne debris region. In these regions, debris is especially likely to be thrown about or ripped from buildings, which is why there are special codes governing them.
Florida building code requires special outfitting for buildings that fall within these regions. What’s more, if your home or business stands in Broward or Miami-Dade Counties, you’ll need to follow even stricter guidelines to fall within compliance. A Miami-Dade Notice of Acceptance (usually simply referred to as NOA) is the highest standard that materials can meet in terms of safety against hurricane forces.
While the 2019 Hurricane Season may be over in South Florida, 2020 will arrive before you know it, so let’s dive into the specific items you ought to have and even discuss some options for affording them.
Protecting Your Property Properly
As a South Florida native, you’ve probably heard the term impact windows and doors more times than you can count, but do you have a clear understanding of precisely what they are?
Impact windows are one of the most important items for ensuring your property remains safe, even during a hurricane. As the name suggests, these windows are built to withstand the force of a hurricane. Not all impact windows are created equal, though. While some are compliant with more overarching building codes, not all of them have received the Miami-Dade NOA; if you want the best possible level of protection, look for that notice of acceptance.
Similarly, impact doors offer you a higher level of safety during any storm. What’s more, because they’re so secure to the elements, they can cut down on your energy bills even during some of Florida’s most idyllic weather. In a sense, impact windows and doors don’t just offer increased safety from hurricane forces, but from any outside force that could threaten your security.
All of that said, it’s easy to see why investing in these items is such a good idea, even if it weren’t necessary for complying with Florida building code in wind-borne debris regions. What’s even better? The state of Florida understands that this code places an increased financial burden upon you, and they’ve done something about it.
The PACE Program for financing impact windows and doors offsets the cost of these upgrades for property owners. PACE stands for Property Assessed Clean Energy; since impact windows and doors help you consume less energy, they encourage greater sustainability and efficiency. Following your installation of impact windows and doors, an assessment is completed and the cost is offset through your property tax bill.
There’s no question that investing in impact windows and doors is the only logical option for any property owner, and that the state of Florida is even willing to help you pay for them, but you want to be sure you invest in the best possible products.
Choosing The Right Impact Windows and Doors
At Wright’s Impact Window & Door, we only supply the very best to our clients. Our products have received the Miami-Dade NOA, and they look impressive and enhance the look of your home. We don’t want our clients to have to compromise the comfort of their lifestyle in order to stay secure, so we’re careful to work together on finding the right solutions.
We know how to strike the perfect balance between safety and aesthetics. With decades of experience under our belts, we’ll never lead our fellow Floridians astray, and we offer a number of guarantees to prove that.
The 2019 hurricane season has ended in South Florida, but another will come, and another after that. The reality is that you cannot change the force of the weather, you can only try to bend to its will as flexible as possible. Make sure that you’re prepared for whatever Mother Nature has in store—get in touch with us to receive a free estimate today.
There are also many other great reasons why you should install impact windows such as energy efficiency, increased security, increased equity in your home, and lower insurance.
Jason joined Wrights in 2018, and leverages decades of experience as a business leader in both B2C and B2B markets, with a wealth of experience in marketing, management, and technology. Before joining Wrights, Jason had significant Client, Consulting, and Agency experience from blue chips to start-ups – working across national and global roles. Originally from the UK, Jason has executive education from the London School of Economics and Oxford University’s Saïd Business School.