Hurricanes, wildfires, tornadoes, floods – whatever your local risk, here's how to be more weather-ready

Hurricanes, wildfires, tornadoes, floods – whatever your local risk, here's how to be more weather-readyThe approach of summer in the U.S. means that it’s time to be ready for hurricanes and wildfires. The incidence of weather and climate disasters is increasing in the U.S., a trend due partly to climate change but also to human decisions.

Since the 1950s, population growth has increased significantly in Sun Belt states. Millions of people have moved to coastlines, from Texas to the Carolinas, putting more lives and property in harm’s way during hurricanes. Florida, the hurricane capital of the United States, now is the third-most-populous state in the nation.

Recognizing that Americans are increasingly vulnerable to extreme weather, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Weather-Ready Nation initiative is helping communities plan for events like violent tornadoes, destructive hurricanes and widespread flooding. As a meteorologist and supporter of this effort, I believe that everyone should understand what kinds of severe weather hazards could affect their family and home and be ready for them. Here are some ways to do it.

What to do instead of taping windows

The U.S. experienced a record 22 billion-dollar weather and climate disasters in 2020 that wreaked about US$95 billion in total damage. This included a historic hurricane season, with 30 named storms and seven billion-dollar tropical cyclones – the most in one year since NOAA started keeping track of billion-dollar disasters in 1980.

For Atlantic and Gulf coast residents, hurricane preparedness has to be a way of life. It means knowing whether you live in a designated evacuation zone. That’s key in the event of storm surge – when a hurricane pushes seawater up onto local beaches and inland areas. Readiness also means having a family and business disaster plan that details preparations, and maintaining a hurricane survival kit.

Another priority is knowing how to protect your home and business from damaging winds. Conducting a home insurance review with your agent and scheduling a wind mitigation inspection will identify what you can do to strengthen and protect vulnerable parts of the building such as windows, entry doors, garage doors and roofs.

Adding metal hurricane shutters or hurricane-resistant windows can help. So can retrofitting the attic or eaves with metal hurricane straps, which connect the rafters to the walls to prevent the roof from blowing off.

The owner of a Mexico Beach, Florida, house that survived Hurricane Michael, a Category 5 storm in 2018, describes his home’s stormproofing features.

Here’s one step to skip: Putting tape onto windows for wind protection from a hurricane. Tape does nothing to reduce wind damage, so this is a waste of time.

Consumers also need to rethink how they shop for a new home in storm-prone areas. It’s OK to want granite countertops, walk-in closets and a safe neighborhood near schools and parks. But buyers should also consider how well a house is built, its age, the materials it contains, the shape and condition of the roof, and building code requirements at the time it was constructed.

And they should ask whether the house is located in a flood-prone area, has wind-resistant features or has been retrofitted against hurricanes. Even residents who don’t live in a zone where it is required should consider taking out flood insurance.

Storm-testing buildings

Florida International University’s International Hurricane Research Center, which is part of our Extreme Events Institute, was designated NOAA’s first Weather-Ready Nation ambassador in South Florida. Our Wall of Wind facility is capable of creating Category 5 hurricane conditions – winds with speeds over 157 mph.

Like crash testing for vehicles, wind testing can help ensure that structures, traffic signals and building components can hold up under stress. The Wall of Wind is part of the National Science Foundation’s Natural Hazards Engineering Research Infrastructure program.

A Wall of Wind demonstration shows how inexpensive building reinforcements can prevent costly hurricane damage.

For educational outreach, we host the yearly Wall of Wind Mitigation Challenge, in which teams of local high school students develop innovative wind mitigation concepts and solutions. And the Extreme Events Institute uses a risk equation to help the public understand and support measures to confront the “risk drivers” that lead to major losses.

For more about hurricane mitigation and preparedness, watch our 12-episode “Eye of the Storm” video series, or visit our Spanish-language hurricane website.

Wildfires, tornadoes and floods

NOAA’s National Weather Service is also investing in new forecasting tools and linking its forecasts to lifesaving decisions made in every state and county. The goal is to provide timely forecasts that emergency managers, first responders, government officials, businesses and the public can act on.

Across the United States, Weather-Ready Nation ambassadors are preparing for many types of extreme weather events.

Another extreme wildfire season is expected in many Western states. The Oregon Office of Emergency Management is asking residents to have a bag packed and to prepare an evacuation plan.

Flooding can occur almost anywhere across the country, and hazards can develop quickly. In mid-May 2021, over 12 inches of rain fell on the Lake Charles, Louisiana, area in a single day, triggering flash flooding that completely submerged parked cars. Flooded roadways can be deadly, so take heed of NOAA’s “Turn Around Don’t Drown” message and avoid walking or driving in flooded areas – it could save your life.

Tornado safety is critical: So far in 2021, twisters have killed a dozen people, in Alabama, Louisiana, Texas and North Carolina. Tornado readiness includes knowing the safest room in your home – usually a windowless interior room on the lowest floor – and tuning in to NOAA Weather Radio, which will provide severe-weather information directly from your local National Weather Service office.

During any severe weather event, such as the February 2021 deep freeze in Texas, the power may go out, so everyone should have flashlights and batteries on hand. Portable generators can be useful during extended outages, but always operate them outdoors to avoid the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Apathy and complacency can also be dangerous when it comes to weather-driven disasters. In my view, weather readiness has to become a way of life – something that all Americans see as their responsibility. The best forecasts in the world may be useless if the public doesn’t respond or hasn’t taken the needed actions to protect themselves when extreme weather threatens.

Most importantly, remember to help your neighbors when needed, especially if they are elderly and can’t help themselves. In addition, consider supporting local nonprofits or churches that help residents in your community who have financial or transportation needs to be ready and safe. We are all in this together.

About The Author

Erik Salna, Associate Director of Education and Outreach, Extreme Events Institute, Florida International University

This Article Originally Appeared On The Conversation

YOU MAY ALSO LIKE

enafarzh-CNzh-TWdanltlfifrdeiwhihuiditjakomsnofaplptruesswsvthtrukurvi

follow InnerSelf on

facebook icontwitter iconyoutube iconinstagram iconpintrest iconrss icon

 Get The Latest By Email

Weekly Magazine Daily Inspiration

LATEST VIDEOS

The Great Climate Migration Has Begun
The Great Climate Migration Has Begun
by Super User
The climate crisis is forcing thousands around the world to flee as their homes become increasingly uninhabitable.
The Last Ice Age Tells Us Why We Need To Care About A 2℃ Change In Temperature
The Last Ice Age Tells Us Why We Need To Care About A 2℃ Change In Temperature
by Alan N Williams, et al
The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) states that without a substantial decrease…
Earth Has Stayed Habitable For Billions Of Years – Exactly How Lucky Did We Get?
Earth Has Stayed Habitable For Billions Of Years – Exactly How Lucky Did We Get?
by Toby Tyrrell
It took evolution 3 or 4 billion years to produce Homo sapiens. If the climate had completely failed just once in that…
How Mapping The Weather 12,000 Years Ago Can Help Predict Future Climate Change
How Mapping The Weather 12,000 Years Ago Can Help Predict Future Climate Change
by Brice Rea
The end of the last ice age, around 12,000 years ago, was characterised by a final cold phase called the Younger Dryas.…
The Caspian Sea Is Set To Fall By 9 Metres Or More This Century
The Caspian Sea Is Set To Fall By 9 Metres Or More This Century
by Frank Wesselingh and Matteo Lattuada
Imagine you are on the coast, looking out to sea. In front of you lies 100 metres of barren sand that looks like a…
Venus Was Once More Earth-like, But Climate Change Made It Uninhabitable
Venus Was Once More Earth-like, But Climate Change Made It Uninhabitable
by Richard Ernst
We can learn a lot about climate change from Venus, our sister planet. Venus currently has a surface temperature of…
Five Climate Disbeliefs: A Crash Course In Climate Misinformation
The Five Climate Disbeliefs: A Crash Course In Climate Misinformation
by John Cook
This video is a crash course in climate misinformation, summarizing the key arguments used to cast doubt on the reality…
The Arctic Hasn't Been This Warm For 3 Million Years and That Means Big Changes For The Planet
The Arctic Hasn't Been This Warm For 3 Million Years and That Means Big Changes For The Planet
by Julie Brigham-Grette and Steve Petsch
Every year, sea ice cover in the Arctic Ocean shrinks to a low point in mid-September. This year it measures just 1.44…

LATEST ARTICLES

image
Why the UK is so unprepared for the impacts of climate change
by Liam F. Beiser-McGrath, Lecturer (Assistant Professor) in Politics and Director of the PECC Lab, Royal Holloway University of London
The UK is woefully unprepared for the dangers of climate change according to a report from the Climate Change Committee…
Rows of solar panels are separated by a walkable space between them
Solar power and energy storage combo boosts reliability
by Matt Shipman-NC State
New research shows that when a power system combines energy storage and solar power generation, the end result is…
Climate change: what G7 leaders could have said – but didn't
Climate change: what G7 leaders could have said – but didn't
by Myles Allen, Professor of Geosystem Science, Director of Oxford Net Zero, University of Oxford
The four-day G7 summit in Cornwall ended with little cause for celebration from anyone worried about climate change.…
How world leaders' high-carbon travel choices could delay climate action
How world leaders' high-carbon travel choices could delay climate action
by Steve Westlake, PhD Candidate, Environmental Leadership, Cardiff University
When UK prime minister Boris Johnson took a one-hour flight to Cornwall for the G7 summit, he was criticised for being…
Maggot burgers can help to solve world hunger
by Paul Brown
Fancy maggot burgers for dinner? Eating animals and plants which revolt many of us could cut hunger caused by climate…
The idea of green growth'is flawed. We must find ways of using and wasting less energy
by Michael (Mike) Joy, Senior Researcher; Institute for Governance and Policy Studies, Te Herenga Waka — Victoria University of Wellington
As countries explore ways of decarbonising their economies, the mantra of “green growth” risks trapping us in a spiral…
Four reasons why G7 climate finance initiative will struggle against China's Belt and Road
Four reasons why G7 climate finance initiative will struggle against China's Belt and Road
by Karen Jackson, Senior Lecturer in Economics, University of Westminster
During the G7 summit in Cornwall, the group of nations unveiled a global initiative to help low and middle-income…
image
Electric heat pumps use much less energy than furnaces, and can cool houses too – here's how they work
by Robert Brecha, Professor of Sustainability, University of Dayton
To help curb climate change, President Biden has set a goal of lowering U.S. greenhouse gas emissions 50%-52% below…

 Get The Latest By Email

Weekly Magazine Daily Inspiration

New Attitudes - New Possibilities

InnerSelf.comClimateImpactNews.com | InnerPower.net
MightyNatural.com | WholisticPolitics.com | InnerSelf Market
Copyright ©1985 - 2021 InnerSelf Publications. All Rights Reserved.