Peak Hurricane Season in Florida: How to Plan for the Risk
Hurricane season is ramping up in Florida, and if this year is similar to the last, the cost of the 2019 season may exceed 19 billion dollars. Statistically, mid-September is the most active time for hurricanes and tropical storms. But officially, the Florida hurricane season won’t end until November 30th. What can you do to protect your Florida home? There are several actions you can take and the products you can invest in to keep your property safe from the worst damage. Impact windows and impact doors are some of the quickest and most effective ways to keep the storm from wreaking havoc inside your house. We’ll cover how you can plan for the risk of hurricanes in Florida before it’s too late.
What’s the difference between a hurricane and a tropical storm?
Hurricanes and tropical storms are similar in that they both produce high, damaging winds. But the main difference between these two natural disasters is that hurricanes are far more intense, with winds reaching highs of at least 74 mph and up to 200 mph.
Hurricanes are one of the world’s most deadly and damaging natural disasters, along with earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and tornadoes. Sometimes, a hurricane is also called a typhoon, or a tropical cyclone. A hurricane can spread over 600 miles into the air and across the ocean.
How are hurricanes formed?
A hurricane occurs when the ocean water reaches a temp of at least 80 degrees Fahrenheit, and the wind starts blowing with an upward force. When the seawater begins to evaporate, it increases the power of the wind, forming a hurricane. The storm is most powerful at its source out in the ocean, and hurricanes are not as powerful when and if they hit land. But they do have the ability to create high winds and produce heavy rain inland.
A tropical cyclone, typhoon, or hurricane only forms in particular areas of the world’s oceans, near the equator. The Atlantic Ocean and the eastern part of the Pacific Ocean are prone to hurricane formation. These powerful storms essentially act like massive engines that need warm, humid air as fuel to operate. The state of Florida sees the most hurricane action each year, with these areas of Florida experiencing the most hurricane damage:
- South East Florida (Miami – Fort Lauderdale – West Palm Beach)
- Key West and the Florida Keys
- South-West Florida (Naples – Fort Myers)
- West Florida (Tampa – St. Petersburg – Sarasota – Clearwater)
- Central Florida Atlantic Coast (Melbourne – Cocoa Beach)
Parts of Texas, Georgia, Alabama, and South Carolina also get damaged from hurricanes each year. Because Florida is a peninsula, it sees the most hurricane action. As a peninsula, three of its four sides jut out into the Atlantic, in an area where hurricanes are ripe to form. Because of its unique topography, Florida sees the worst wind damage from storms. These coastal areas are collectively known as the wind-borne debris region, and this is one of the reasons why Florida homeowners need to take special precautions to protect their houses with hurricane windows and hurricane doors.
What is the wind-borne debris region?
The Florida Building Code designates certain areas of Florida as the ‘Wind-borne debris region‘. Mostly, these areas are positioned around the coasts of the state. But, there are also a few areas designated as wind-borne debris regions that are inland. These inland regions are all within a mile of the coastline with a mean coastal high water level, where winds can reach 130 mph. Any location that sees wind speeds of 140 mph or higher is typically designated as a wind-borne debris region according to the Florida Building Code. Farther inland, near Orlando, wind speeds tend to top out at 100 mph.
If a house is located in the wind-borne debris regions, the Florida Building Code stipulates that the property must have some protection from the high winds of a hurricane or tropical storm. Impact doors and impact windows, along with shutters, have all been approved in Florida for hurricane prep and protection. People with homes located in the Miami-Dade and Broward county areas must comply with even stricter building code requirements. The homes’ hurricane protection devices must meet these requirements to get a Miami-Dade Notice of Acceptance or NOA. Hurricane-resistance products such as impact doors and impact windows that get an NOA have reached the highest standards in the industry. Wrights Impact Window and Door products meet these strict hurricane protection standards.
When are hurricanes most likely to form off the coast of Florida?
While mid-September is the statistical peak of hurricane season in Florida, it’s not the only time powerful and dangerous storms can occur. For Florida homeowners, it’s still critical to prepare for a storm even after the statistical peak has passed. As ocean temperatures remain warm and the air humid, this can create favorable conditions for shearing, hurricane-force winds. Some of the most disastrous hurricanes in history have hit Florida in October, later in the season.
What are the steps Florida homeowners can take to prepare for a hurricane?
Hurricane winds produce some of the worst and most costly damage to Florida homes. If you own property in Florida, there are many things you can do and products you can purchase to protect your property in the wind-borne regions and inland. The following hurricane prep tips can be used several months before a hurricane, a few weeks before a hurricane hits land, and a couple of days before the storm reaches the coast.
Months Before Hurricane Season Starts
- Stay Informed
When you own property in a region prone to natural disasters like tropical storms and hurricanes, it’s critical that keep abreast of developing and worsening weather conditions. Knowing in advance if a storm is brewing off the coast will go a long way to ensuring that you take the necessary steps to protect your property. Consider downloading an app from a Florida weather service, and sign up for notifications for storm conditions and impending hurricanes.
- Make an Evacuation Plan
Understandably, most people do not want to leave their home before a hurricane strikes. But in some cases, it may be necessary to leave the area. You don’t want to be caught off-guard forming evacuation plans last minute, so it’s a good idea to create one ahead of time just in case. Follow these steps for an emergency evacuation plan:
- Find a convenient place to go to. If you have friends or family that live beyond the evacuation zone, coordinate with them ahead of time. Not everyone is lucky enough to have loved ones who live far from hurricane ground zero. If this is your situation, look up hurricane shelters before evacuation becomes necessary. People who have pets will need to be thorough in choosing a pet-friendly facility. Most are not.
- Consider your transportation method and routes. In an emergency evacuation, travel will not be easy, and the roads will be incredibly congested. Look into alternative routes and ways of getting to your friend’s home or a hurricane shelter before an evacuation, so you aren’t stranded.
- Outline communication methods. Outline ahead of time how your friends and family will communicate during an evacuation. Write down everyone’s phone number, email address, home addresses, and the shelter address and distribute the copies.
One Month Before Hurricane Season
- Make a Disaster Supply Kit
No matter if you’re bugging out to the hurricane shelter or sheltering-in-place, you’ll need a supply kit to get you through the storm. Try to build the supply kit at least a month away from hurricane season so you can guarantee you’ll get the supplies you need. In a disaster situation, prices are gouged, and many items required will be out-of-stock. Everyone’s supply kit will be different, but start here to give you some ideas of what you’ll need:
- At least 3-days worth of fresh water and non-perishable food your family and pets
- Battery-powered radio for storm updates and extra batteries
- Flashlights and water-proof matches
- A whistle for signaling emergency responders
- Supply of prescription medications and OTC medications
- Blankets and sleeping bags
- Additional sets of clothing and shoes
- Backup phone chargers
- Personal hygiene items
- Paper and plastic eating utensils, plates, and napkins
- Have Hurricane Impact Doors and Windows Installed
Hurricane windows and hurricane doors are critical for protecting your home from wind and water damage in a hurricane. These incredibly durable impact doors and windows can also protect the home from intruders. With hurricane windows and doors, you’ll save money on hurricane prep for your house and your energy bills. A Florida home with hurricane windows and doors also offers an attractive feature for prospective buyers if you’re looking to put the house on the market.
Three to Five Days Before a Hurricane Hits
- Trim back the trees and shrubs to keep gutters clear of debris when the winds increase.
- Bring in every piece of loose furniture, and home furnishes, including trash cans and decorations, inside.
- Take steps to protect your home’s electrical system and wiring from hurricane damage.
- Cover your windows with ⅝ inch thick plywood boards to prevent the glass from breaking. (not required if you have impact windows)
- Keep your vehicle’s gas tank full and if you have a backup generator, keep it full too.
- Outside AC units should be turned off and secured with metal straps to keep them from blowing away in a hurricane. Also, cover the unit with plywood or tarp to protect it further.
In a hurricane, standard doors and windows sustain a lot of damage when they aren’t made of high-impact materials. All Wright’s Impact Window and Door products are made with the highest industry standards and are designed to withstand hurricane-force winds and rain. These durable doors can also withstand powerful impacts from any high-force, including those from home intruders. Request an estimate from Wright’s Impact Window and Door today to fully protect your home and family from hurricane damage.
What Other Benefits Are There When You Install impact Windows?
Hurricane impact windows do more than just protect you from storms. The can prevent intruders, and save you money on your energy bills. You can read more here about the reasons why you should install impact windows and doors.