Hurricane Dean an Omen?
Hurricane Season Is Far From Over
Hurricane Dean notwithstanding, windstorm activity has been light again this year … so far. Unfortunately, however, hurricane season runs through the end of November. We even have over a month to go to get through the peak of the season which ends on September 30.
Forecasters continue to predict greater than average hurricane activity not only for this year, but for the longer term. In fact one respected group, the Department of Atmospheric Science at Colorado State University, has published the following prediction for 2007 in the “Atlantic Basin”:
- Named Storms: 17
- Hurricanes: 9
- Hurricane Days: 40
- Intense Hurricanes: 5
- Intense Hurricane Days: 11
They put forth the following probabilities of at least one major hurricane (category 3, 4 or 5) making landfall on each of the following coastal areas:
- US Coastline: 74% (average for last century is 52%)
- US East Coast 50% (average is 31%)
- Gulf Coast 49% (average is 30%)
Even other areas of the country are not immune from this kind of storm activity, with New England now in the sights of some forecasters. In fact New England does have a history: there have been six category 3 hurricanes in Massachusetts alone in the last century, with the last one in 1969. Hurricane patterns are cyclical, and the thought is that the pendulum has swung.
Risk management includes the following:
- New building construction should certainly conform to local building codes, but in addition owners should look to the codes in other states like Florida and Louisiana which are in some ways far ahead with respect to wind-resistant construction.
- Building insurance values should be at least 100% of replacement cost, with consideration of a limit even higher to cover debris removal, spikes in construction costs following events, and changes in building codes.
- Careful attention should be paid to flood insurance, even in areas outside of FEMA’s “Special Flood Hazard Areas.” Reasons for this include:
- FEMA pays 25% of their claims in zones other than special hazard areas
- FEMA is in the process of remapping the entire country, but has not released the new zoning yet; thus many published flood zones are obsolete
- Hurricanes are often slow moving and dump tremendous loads of precipitation, so that normally dry land not near any body of water is vulnerable; this month’s extraordinary Midwest flooding is an illustration of this phenomenon
4. There are steps to take when a storm is imminent in your area; contact us for tips on this subject
Aug 29, 2007