Since 2010, Category 1 hurricanes caused 175 direct deaths and over $100 billion in damage in the United States.
How to be weather-ready for the near-term threat of hurricanes
As severe weather and flooding continue to impact large areas of the central United States, Weather-Ready Nation together with the Weather-Ready Nation Ambassadors (@WRNAmbassadors) and WeatherBuild®, Decision Support Solutions for the Construction Industry and Built Environment®, are proactively engaging site stakeholders and decision makers, such as leading contractors, owners and operators across the construction industry and built environment, on how to be weather-ready for the near-term threat of hurricanes.
Downed power lines, carbon monoxide from generators, and health complications
For example, between the 2016 and 2018 hurricane seasons, greater than 50% of the water-related fatalities were vehicle-related. And, numerous dangers exist after hurricanes pass, as a result of “…downed power lines, carbon monoxide from generators, and health complications from the cleanup.” Weather-Ready Nation highlights that since 2010 Category 1 hurricanes “…caused 175 direct deaths and over $100 billion in damage in the United States…” — minor hurricanes cause significant impacts, in addition to major hurricanes.
A better understanding of tropical cyclones and hurricane hazards helps contractors, owners and operators to improve situational awareness and make better-informed decisions about weather events, safety risks, environmental hazards, schedule impacts, and probable outcomes.
Major weather hazards associated with hurricanes:
1. Storm Surge & Storm Tide
Loss of life, destruction of buildings and infrastructure, and erosion of coastline and the environment
Storm surge and large waves caused by hurricanes pose the greatest threat to life-safety, buildings and infrastructure along the coastline. An abnormal rise of water generated by a storm’s winds, storm surge can exceed 20 feet, spanning hundreds of miles. Further, storm tide is the water level rise during a storm due to the combination of both the storm surge and the astronomical tide.
The destructive power of storm surge and large waves can result in loss of life, destruction of buildings and infrastructure, and erosion of coastline and the environment. For example, in estuaries and bayous, salt water intrusion can endanger public health, native species and local ecosystems.
- Notable Storm Surge Events
- Storm Surge Risk Map for U.S. Coast
- Storm Surge Vulnerability Facts
- Coastal Inundation Visualization
For more information about about storm surge, go to the NHC Storm Surge Unit.
2. Heavy Rainfall & Inland Flooding
When approaching high water, always remember Turn Around Don’t Drown!
Tropical cyclones generally produce widespread, torrential rains greater than 6 inches, resulting in destructive floods. Further, flooding is the major threat from tropical cyclones for inland populations, buildings and infrastructure. Defined as a rapid rise in water levels, flash flooding occurs at a fast rate due to intense rainfall. Several days after a storm passes, longer term flooding can persist on inland waterways.
Rainfall amounts are not directly related to the strength of tropical cyclones — but first to the speed and size of the storms and second to the geography of the area. Slower and larger storms generally produce greater rainfall. Additionally, mountainous terrain enhances rainfall from tropical cyclones.
3. High Winds
Complete evacuations with personnel in shelter before the onset of tropical storm-force winds
Atlantic and Eastern Pacific hurricanes are classified into five categories according to the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale, which estimates potential property damage according to the hurricane’s sustained wind speed. Tropical storm-force winds are dangerous! Accordingly, safety managers need to complete evacuations with personnel in shelter before the onset of tropical storm-force winds, not the onset of hurricane-force winds.
Cause building material, construction debris and small items to be “airborne projectiles”
Hurricane‐force winds, greater than 74 mph, can result in loss of life, and destruction of buildings and infrastructure. Hurricanes can cause building material, construction debris and small items to be “airborne projectiles.” And, winds can remain above hurricane strength inland. For example in 2004, Hurricane Charley made landfall at Punta Gorda on the southwest Florida coast and produced major damage inland across central Florida with gusts greater than 100 mph.
In rain bands away from the center of the hurricane –or– near the eye-wall
Hurricanes and tropical storms can also produce tornadoes, which can occur in thunderstorms embedded in rain bands away from the center of the hurricane. However, tornadoes can also occur near the eye-wall. Generally, tornadoes produced by tropical cyclones are relatively weak in strength and short in duration — but can pose a major threat to life-safety, buildings and infrastructure. For more information about tornadoes, go to the NWS Storm Prediction Center.
Thank you for helping build a Weather-Ready Nation. Follow us at Weather-Ready Nation Ambassadors (@WRNAmbassadors). Thank you for connecting with the Weather-Ready Nation Team. “Be a Force of Nature”
Headquartered in Cambridge, MA, WeatherBuild® offers a suite of decision support solutions that empower contractors, owners and operators to improve situational awareness and make better-informed decisions about weather events, schedule impacts, safety risks and probable outcomes.
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