Like it or not, we are in the heart of hurricane season and the tropics have started to get more active. The season runs from June 1st to November 30th with the peak of the season being around the middle of September. As a native Floridian, our family is used to this yearly cycle, but if you are new to the area, here are some of the basics you need to know.
Hurricanes typically originate as tropical waves, evolving into tropical depressions as wind speeds intensify. As these winds further escalate, they transform into tropical storms, and when they reach or exceed 74 mph, they achieve hurricane status.
Once the storm reaches hurricane status, there are 5 different categories of storms.
Categories of Storms (Source: National Hurricane Center)
Category 1 Hurricane (74-95 mph or 119-153 km/h): These hurricanes are considered minimal and have relatively low wind speeds. They can still cause damage to poorly constructed buildings, trees, and power lines.
Category 2 Hurricane (96-110 mph or 154-177 km/h): Category 2 hurricanes have moderate wind speeds and can cause more significant damage to homes, power outages, and some structural damage.
Category 3 Hurricane (111-129 mph or 178-208 km/h): These are considered major hurricanes. They have the potential to cause extensive damage to well-built homes, uproot trees, and widespread power outages.
Category 4 Hurricane (130-156 mph or 209-251 km/h): Category 4 hurricanes are extremely dangerous and can lead to severe damage. Well-built homes may experience major roof and wall failures. Power outages can last for days or weeks.
Category 5 Hurricane (157 mph or higher, or 252 km/h or higher): Category 5 hurricanes are the most powerful and destructive. They can cause catastrophic damage, with complete roof failure on many residences and industrial buildings. They often lead to long-term power outages and render areas uninhabitable for weeks or even months.
It is always recommended you follow the direction of local authorities in your area as a storm approaches. Many times you will be able to ride out the storm in the safety of your home, but there are times you might need to go to a local shelter for the safety of your family. If you have pets, many shelters will allow you to bring them along. Check with your local authorities and shelters.
Being prepared is the most important thing you can do. From experience, I can tell you that once we are in the cone of the possible path of the storm, the stores will be busy with people buying supplies. Our family likes to get a head start and we stay stocked up once hurricane season begins in June. We all remember the run on toilet paper in 2020! The same thing happens but with water, flashlights, and nonperishable foods.
Before the storm hits, make sure you have at least a week's worth of non-perishable foods, a non-electric can opener, a gallon of water per person per day (including pets), flashlights, a weather radio, all prescriptions have been refilled, fill up your cars with gas, locate your homeowners insurance policy, and have some cash if the ATMs are down. If you have young children in your house, make sure you have some board games and other toys to entertain, especially if the power goes out. It is also a good idea to charge all your electronics. You can purchase solar powered chargers for your phones and tablets. They are very reasonably priced and would be a good addition to any hurricane kit.
FloridaDisaster.org is full of resources on how to plan and prepare. Here are just a few:
For the latest on the storm or to see the current names storms, the National Hurricane Center is a great resource.
The most important tip I can give today, is to always listen to your local authorities and heed their warnings of when to shelter in place and when to evacuate. With some planning and preparation, we will all get through this hurricane season safely.
Until next time!