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