The arrival of summer also means the arrival of hurricane season in the state of Texas. Residents of the Lone Star State are all too familiar with the destructive nature of hurricanes as these storms cause the most damage of any natural disaster. In fact, the U.S. government spends roughly $28 billion per year recovering from the damage caused by hurricanes. Of that $28 billion, 13 percent is spent recovering from hurricane damage in Texas alone.
Who Should Expect Hurricanes
Those who live in the coastal areas are at the highest risk of experiencing damage to their property in a hurricane. This makes it extremely important for Texas residents along the Gulf Coast to be aware of the type of damage hurricanes cause and to protect their homes to minimize the damage. Those who live inland should be prepared for hurricanes as well because heavy rain and strong wind will make their way to inland areas.
The heavy rain and strong wind brought to land by hurricanes can cause several layers of damage to homes, commercial buildings, and municipal infrastructure. Understanding the type of damage that hurricanes can cause can help you better prepare your home or business before the storm to help limit the potential damage. In this guide, we will cover the categories of hurricanes, the different elements of these storms, and the type of damage they can cause to your property.
What are the Different Hurricane Categories?
The category of a hurricane is determined mostly by the wind speed of the storm according to the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale. Before hurricanes reach land, they are already labeled as one of the categories which gives us an idea of the type of damage these storms will unleash once they make landfall. It is important for Texas residents to be familiar with the 5 different hurricane categories so you know what to expect from a hurricane:
- Category 1: A Category 1 hurricane has wind speeds between 74 and 95 mph. These storms will cause a storm surge of about 4-5 feet and can result in moderate damage to homes, shrubs, and tree branches. Power outages can occur that usually last for several days.
- Category 2: A Category 2 hurricane has wind speeds between 96 and 110 mph with a storm surge between 6 and 8 feet. The wind of these storms is strong enough to blow down trees and cause significant damage to the roofing and siding of homes and buildings. Power outages caused by these storms can last for weeks.
- Category 3: A Category 3 hurricane has wind speeds between 111 and 129 mph and a storm surge of 9-12 feet. These storms can cause devastating damage to mobile homes, knock over large trees and utility poles, and cause serious damage to homes and small buildings. Power outages from a category 3 storm can last for several weeks.
- Category 4: A Category 4 hurricane has wind speeds between 130 and 156 mph and a storm surge of 13 to 18 feet. These storms result in flooding and severe damage to homes and buildings and the wind can topple trees, utility poles, and small structures. Power outages from these storms can last for months.
- Category 5: A Category 5 hurricane has wind speeds of 157 mph and above and a storm surge of 19 feet or more. These storms can cause catastrophic damage to homes, commercial buildings, and elements of the municipal infrastructure. Power outages caused by category 5 storms can last for months.
What Causes Hurricanes?
When a hurricane occurs, there are several elements of the storm that cause different types of damage. The following are the elements of a hurricane and the damage they can cause:
- Wind: The wind speed of a hurricane can range from 74 to more than 157 mph. Serious damage can occur from the wind at any speed in this range. Wind speeds in the lower part of this range can damage roofing and siding, break windows, knock over sheds and other small structures, and cause tree branches to snap. Wind at the higher end of this range can cause more serious damage to homes and buildings, blow over trees and powerlines that can land on buildings and vehicles, and blow away small buildings and homes.
- Storm Surge: Storm surge is the rise in the water above its normal level. The winds of a hurricane will cause the water level to rise and as it comes closer to land, it pushes the water towards the shore. The stronger the hurricane, the higher the storm surge and the more damage it will cause when the water gets pushed on land. The storm surge can cause serious damage to homes and other structures near the coastline and cause serious flooding.
- Rainfall: Hurricanes come with extreme rainfall which can be as much as 6 inches per hour. This level of rainfall is enough to cause flash flooding, especially in areas affected by the storm surge, and the rain can also cause extensive water damage to homes and buildings, especially if they have experienced structural damage from the wind. The rain from a hurricane can move hundreds of miles inland from where it made landfall and cause widespread flooding and water damage in these areas.
- Tornadoes: One of the lesser known features of hurricanes is tornadoes that can form from the wind. However, it is difficult to tell the difference between the damage caused by these tornadoes and that caused by the wind already present in the storm.
Factors that Contribute to the Damage
There are several factors that are not features of a hurricane, but they do contribute to the amount of damage a hurricane can cause. The following are the factors you must take into consideration:
- Location: The location of your property in relation to where the hurricane makes landfall will determine the type of damage you can expect. Those living close to the coast should prepare for the worst as these areas will get the strongest wind, heaviest rain, and flooding from the storm surge. If you live within 100 miles inland from where the hurricane makes landfall, you can expect significant rain and wind, but these elements will weaken the further inland they move.
- Time of year: While hurricane season lasts from the start of June until the end of November, they are typically the strongest from mid-August to mid-October. This is because the wind is the weakest during these months. Stronger winds at the beginning and end of hurricane season can disrupt the formation of hurricanes.
- Global warming: Since 1880, the average global temperature has risen almost 2 degrees Fahrenheit and the global sea level has risen nearly 9 inches. Both of these factors have caused hurricanes to become stronger and more destructive as the warmer air and ocean temperatures cause stronger winds that hold more moisture and the rise in sea level has led to bigger storm surges. Global warming has also caused the jet stream to slow down by 10 percent since 1949 which allows hurricanes to last longer.
- Preparedness: The level of preparedness on the city and state level, as well as the individual level, will influence the amount of damage. On the city and state level, local governments and agencies can help secure infrastructure and public buildings to limit the damage and evacuate areas at the most risk to prevent injuries and death among their citizens. On the individual level, homeowners need to do what they can to prepare for hurricanes to limit the damage to their property. Fortifying your roof and siding, installing hurricane windows, and anchoring your home are just some of the steps you can take to limit potential storm damage from a hurricane.
After the Hurricane: What do I Do?
If your property is affected by a hurricane at any point this hurricane season, quick reaction is the key to limiting the damage. Excessive rain and flooding can cause serious water damage that can lead to structural issues and mold growth, and structural damage caused by the wind will leave your property vulnerable to further damage and even collapse. Water damage and structural issues must be addressed as soon as possible.
At Target Restoration, we can help homes and businesses throughout the state of Texas recover from the effects of a hurricane. We can deal with any level of flooding with our water damage restoration services and we also provide roof repair and reconstruction to repair structural damage.
Make sure you stay alert this hurricane season so you can prepare your home before an impending hurricane and react immediately in the aftermath to limit the damage.
Don’t hesitate to give Target Restoration a call at (877) 741-9026 if your home or building was flooded from a hurricane or heavy rain. We proudly serve the entire state of Texas.