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Hurricanes in West Palm Beach

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With the effects of global warming, it’s no surprise that hurricanes remain a threat worldwide, and the Sunshine State is no exception. Although West Palm Beach remains relatively safe from the hazards and dangers of sweeping storms, West Palm Beach residents must know the reality of hurricanes and what they can do.

West Palm Beach isn’t immune, so read on to find out what you should do in the event of a hurricane and how best to prepare!

Dark clouds (hurricane)

Does West Palm Beach Get Hurricanes?

Though it’s not far from one of the most hurricane-prone areas of Florida, West Palm Beach is relatively safe from hurricanes. That’s not to say it hasn’t felt the effects of storms in recent years.

In September 2022, Hurricane Ian passed West Palm as a Category 4 storm. So while West Palm Beach isn’t hurricane-prone, it’s certainly not immune. While it didn’t cause mass damage to West Palm Beach, in November 2022, Hurricane Nicole was the first landfall hurricane in 40 years to hit Florida so late in the season.

As Hurricane Nicole proved, hurricanes can affect an area whether or not it has struck before. However, remaining aware, prepared, and not alarmed is essential. Very few hurricanes that initiate in the Atlantic ever threaten Florida or the East Coast specifically.

Even then, only a small number make landfall and cause damage. Due to its location at the state’s tip, West Palm Beach typically experiences hurricanes as storm surges and heavy rain, usually associated with tropical storms. Thus, West Palm Beach doesn’t generally witness severe damage or fatalities regularly.

What Are the Hazards Associated With Hurricanes in West Palm Beach?

Storm Surges

Many Florida areas are susceptible to storm surges, including West Palm Beach, which sits on the coast. A storm surge is when the rise in seawater becomes abnormal during a storm; typically, the seawater’s height above the predicted tide measures the surge.

The storm’s forceful winds push the water onto the shore, causing the surge. Many factors contribute to the amplitude of the storm surge, such as the coastline’s shape, the hurricane’s category, the storm’s speed and size, and the local water beds.

West Palm Beach residents must be aware that their geographical location, and the location of their homes, often places them at particular risk of feeling the impacts of a storm surge.

High Winds

You should treat hurricanes’ high winds seriously because they’re dangerous to anyone experiencing them. Winds of 74 mph or more are powerful enough to destroy homes, buildings, and mobile homes.

It’s no surprise that they can also cause fatalities. The debris from this destruction can cause the most damage, including small items left outside before the storm, signs, or roofing materials. If left outside, objects are uncontrollable in such high winds; they act as flying weapons, so you must remain vigilant.

It’s also important to remember that a Category one hurricane typically has winds spanning 74 – 95 mph, meaning that even in its lowest category, the predicted high winds are hazardous. By Category 5, winds can surpass 156 mph.

Heavy Rain

While high winds cause severe damage, heavy rainfall, and thus flooding, can cause even more. Moving water, with a current six inches deep, can quickly take your feet from under you and cause severe injuries or fatalities.

Flooding washes out parts of roads and bridges. Also, wind and debris can cut or damage electrical wires, increasing the risk of electrocution because electrical currents can travel through the moving water.

Ultimately, with heavy rain and flooding comes the hazard of slipping, whether outside or inside. Avoid injuries, no matter how dangerous, at all times, especially when the weather conditions decrease the chances of getting immediate medical help.

Heavy Rain

What Should You Do Before a Hurricane?

  • Check your home’s location: is it in a high-wind area? If it is, make sure your roof aligns with local building codes. For example, in a high wind area, that’ll look like having six nails per shingle.
  • Assess your windows and exterior doors. Consider upgrading them to impact-resistant windows or wind-resistant shutters to prevent damage, and consider investing in heavy-duty hinges.
  • Give your roof extra strength with hurricane straps. It will protect the roof from Category one damage or winds up to 100 mph.
  • Examine the surroundings of your house. Do you have large trees nearby or in the garden? Consider trimming these regularly to limit the risk of debris falling on your roof.
  • Depending on the category and the local advice, you may have to board up your windows using plywood and nails to reinforce and protect your home. Keep listening to the news and local advice to follow the proper guidelines.
  • Make yourself a 72-hour survival kit. While taking care of your home is crucial, always plan for the eventuality that you might be inside your home during the storm. Create a survival kit with everything you need, including necessary pet items!

What Should You Do During a Hurricane?

If it’s not necessary to evacuate, but you’re at home when your home becomes damaged during the storm:

  • It’s crucial you stay away from any windows or doors, even if you’ve covered them. You don’t want to risk any damage to yourself or your family. For added protection, board all windows.
  • Where possible, take cover in a small interior room – also deemed your ‘safe room’. Often this is a closet or hallway. If your house is a two-story, your safe room should be an interior first-floor room, such as a bathroom or closet.
  • Don’t drive or walk through water if your area starts to flood. It would be best if you stayed indoors, safe, and away from the hazards of the weather outside. If you have your survival kit, it will keep you well-equipped. You won’t need to leave the house for 72 hours.

What Should You Do After a Hurricane?

  • It’s vital that you don’t go outside in the few hours immediately after a hurricane. Most injuries, fatal or otherwise, occur after the storm has passed. Remain wary.
  • Don’t drive unless it’s an absolute necessity. Driving is extremely hazardous because of debris, broken power lines, flooding or flash flooding, non-working traffic signals, and hidden road damage.
  • Don’t visit disaster areas. Aside from being dangerous, you could slow down the efforts of those emergency services working to help individuals in danger.
  • It’s vital you adhere to your local area’s curfews. Turn on the TV or radio, or contact family/friends to stay up-to-date on the latest news.
  • Only once it’s safe to do so should you assess the damage to your home. However, do this with extreme caution. First, ensure you and your family are safe, then determine property damage.

Types of Property Damage Caused by West Palm Beach Hurricanes

Roof Damage

Even after preparing your roof well for the oncoming storm, it’s common to have torn-off shingles or framing. Category 3 or 4 hurricanes can beat roofs so hard that they entirely tear away, causing leaks inside the home.

Interior Damage

Common damage to your home occurs when debris breaks doors and windows while high winds pull them off their hinges. Due to damaged windows or doors, wind, water, and rain can get into the interior of your home. This is dangerous because water entering the home can cause flooding and damage, such as ruining furniture and electronic devices or even lead to mold.

Structural Damage

High winds, even in a Category 1 hurricane, can cause a home to shift, creating structural cracks in the walls and foundations. If this occurs, your home may need repairs to be habitable. Until then, you’d need to vacate the property.

Equipment Damage

Sadly, the effects of interior water damage on any electrical equipment, such as heating and air conditioning units or generators, can render them unrepairable. If this happens, equipment like your appliances or pool equipment could need a complete replacement.

Utility Damage

Utility damage can be one of the most inconvenient because of how long it takes to fix the problems. These problems could include damage to power lines, internet access, and problems with water systems and the grid. Sadly, it’s inevitable that hurricanes will affect these areas of life, making it harder to sort out your potential property damage.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Often Do Hurricanes Hit West Palm Beach?

Rarely does a landfall hurricane hit West Palm Beach. However, researchers have found that rising temperatures are causing rapid intensification, so West Palm Beach still isn’t immune to the effects. Since 1921, 62 tropical storms and hurricanes have impacted West Palm Beach after passing within 60 miles, evidencing the area’s susceptibility.

Suffering From Hurricane Damage in West Palm Beach? ADU Can Help

While natural forces like hurricanes are out of your control, get some control back with the help of ADU. If your home is suffering from storm damage, ADU can help today! Don’t hesitate!

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