Hurricane Preparedness Week begins today and will last through Saturday May, 13th.
Today’s topic involves determining your local risk from a tropical system. From a Tropical Depression to Major Hurricane, every tropical system deserves the attention of those it will be impacting. However, each one will present different risks to different areas; sometimes only a few miles apart.
Historically, any given tropical system’s greatest threat to life and property comes from storm surge; a localized increase in sea level due to a tropical systems winds and relatively low barometric pressure.
As demonstrated by Hurricanes Katrina (2005) and Ike (2008), as well as many others, the power of water is often underestimated and can wipe entire communities away from the shore.
While storm surge is a coastal threat – primarily impacting life and property in Beaufort, Jasper, Chatham, Bryan, Liberty, McIntosh and Glynn Counties - wind and rain present threats to a much larger number of people.
As Hurricane Matthew proved, damage straight-line winds can occur with even a passing tropical system, more than 100 miles inland. Falling trees pose a danger to both life and property across all inland counties of the WTOC-TV viewing area during a ‘strong’ tropical storm or hurricane.
The threat of flooding from intense tropical rains extends even further inland. If a slow moving tropical system were to move over our area after making landfall along the Florida Gulf Coast, or our own coastline, significant inland flooding would almost certainly occur.
Inland flooding can occur from even the weakest tropical systems. Tropical Depression Bonnie flooded property and closed portions of Interstate 95 in the Lowcountry last year with sustained winds less than 40 MPH.
While tornadoes directly impact the fewest number of people during a tropical weather event, damage can be especially severe. Multiple tornadoes were spawned as a weakening Tropical Storm Hurricane traversed our area in early September 2016.
Through citing past storms or using computer models to predict impacts, it is fact that all portions of the Coastal Empire and Lowcountry are prone to various threat - storm surge, damaging winds, isolated tornadoes and inland flooding – that a tropical system poses.
In order to prepare for the next system, make sure that you are aware of your specific risks and have a plan of action should those risks be realized.
To stay on top of storm coverage, head to the WTOC Hurricane Center.
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