Hurricane Myths and Facts

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Hurricane Myths and Facts

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Myth: Category 1 Hurricanes Aren’t that Dangerous

Facts: Even tropical storms, with winds under 74 miles per hour, can cause significant damage. Tropical Storm Josephine, which made landfall in Florida’s Taylor County in 1996, spawned over a dozen tornadoes, produced 9.3 feet of storm surge, damaging more than 3,700 homes and knocked out power to 400,000 people.

Category 1 hurricanes have sustained winds between 74 and 95 miles per hour and can cause significant damage to roofing, trees and power lines, not to mention flooding from storm surge and rain at low elevations.

Myth: Only People on the Coast Need to Be Concerned About Hurricanes

Facts: Storm-surge flooding has been known to reach more than 10 miles inland and hurricane rainfall can easily flood inland rivers, even far from where a storm made landfall. The heavy winds and rains can push deep inland, with hurricane and tropical storm force wind speeds surviving well past the coast.

Myth: Only Floridians and People in Gulf States Are at Risk

Facts: Florida and other Gulf Coast states tend to be most frequently hit (Florida leads with over 117 between 1851 and 2017) but North Carolina has suffered direct hurricane hits more than 50 times since 1851, even more than South Carolina’s 32 hits.1 They’re even somewhat frequent on Northern East Coast states – New York has had 12 hits, Maine 6 and Massachusetts 10. If you live on the Atlantic coast, your state is not immune.

Myth: We’re Safe from Named Storms During Most of the Year

Facts: The truth is the majority of hurricanes do occur in August and September, but no month of the year is completely immune to the development of named storms. There has been at least one tropical cyclone in every month recorded (Tropical depression in February 1911, Category 2 hurricane in March 1908 and quite a few in November – January. Hurricane Alice, a Category 1 hurricane, formed over New Years in 1954/1955).

Myth: Taping a Big X on Your Windows Can Prevent Them from Breaking

Facts: Taping an X on your windows does not strengthen them and will not prevent the window from shattering. Experts say it’s preferable to have a window shatter into smaller pieces anyways since larger pieces of shattered glass can potentially cause greater bodily injury. Shutters, storm windows or plywood are effective options for protecting windows.

Myth: Cracking a Window Relieves Pressure

Facts: Opening a window is the last thing you want to do in a hurricane. The wind will naturally seek an opening to escape from, which could end up being a wall or other windows in your home. No homes are completely airtight, so dangerous pressure buildup is highly unlikely. There are enough small openings, such as vents, to prevent pressure buildup during a storm.  

Myth: Rely on Candles Instead of Flashlights

Facts: It’s much better to stock up on batteries for your flashlights then resort to candles during a hurricane. Candles can easily cause a fire, especially if they’re knocked over by a person, the wind or a pet. During a hurricane it’s unlikely fire department or rescuers will be able to reach you in the event a candle starts a fire.

Myth: If It’s Clear Outside It’s Safe to Leave

Facts: If the eye happens to cross over your home, you may think the storm has passed, when in fact you’re just in the calm eye. Be cognizant before venturing our and make sure you don’t leave until the storm has actually passed.

Myth: You Don’t Need to Evacuate Until the Storm Arrives

Facts: Keep in mind that everyone in your area is likely going to be evacuating as well. The hotels and motels in nearby safe communities will get booked fast, gas stations and roads will become crowded and preparing will become a slower, more arduous process the longer you wait. The sooner you get out the easier a time you’ll have evacuating.

Myth: Insurance Will Cover My Home Damage

Facts: There are all types of damage your insurance won’t cover, including flood damage from storm surge, rain or overflowing bodies of water. The only time your regular homeowners insurance would cover water damage is if water was let in due to wind damage, such as wind damage to a roof resulting in leaks in your home.

Flood insurance is separate coverage available through The National Flood Insurance Program. People in high risk areas of Florida should strongly consider acquiring adequate flood insurance to ensure they are able to get the money they need to repair and rebuild after a hurricane.

If your home did suffer water damage that you believe occurred due to wind rather than storm surge flooding, and the insurance company denied your claim, you may want to consider speaking with an independent claims adjuster or a hurricane damage lawyer.