A Comprehensive Guide to Protecting Your Business this Hurricane Season

Apr 15, 2024

Hurricanes are no laughing matter, especially when it comes to protecting your business. As we approach the upcoming hurricane season – which is expected to be a doozy –  it’s crucial to be well-informed and prepared for any potential threats that may come your way.

 Understanding hurricanes is key to staying safe and secure, from their formation to the areas they impact in the United States. Let’s explore everything there is to know about hurricanes to help you stay one step ahead this summer and fall.

What Are Hurricanes?

Hurricanes, the strongest type of tropical cyclones that affect the United States, can be some of the most violent storms on Earth. 

They typically form near the equator over warm ocean waters and are fueled by warm, moist air. These powerful storms can cause widespread destruction and devastation when they make landfall. 

The term “hurricane” is commonly used for storms that form over the Atlantic Ocean or eastern Pacific Ocean, but they are known by different names in other parts of the world, such as typhoons or cyclones.

How Are Hurricanes Formed?

The creation of a hurricane involves several key ingredients, including warm ocean water and a lack of vertical wind shear. As warm air rises over the ocean’s surface, it cools and condenses to form large storm clouds, leaving an area of lower pressure below that induces counterclockwise winds. 

This process leads to the development of a cluster of thunderstorm clouds, known as a tropical disturbance. As the storm intensifies, it progresses through stages, ultimately reaching hurricane status with winds of 74 mph or higher.

Hurricanes and Other Tropical Disturbances, Defined

As we’ve discussed, hurricanes, the strongest type of tropical cyclones that affect the United States, are massive systems that form over warm ocean waters and move toward land. 

With wind speeds of at least 74 mph, hurricanes are rated on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale from Category 1 to Category 5 (the higher the category, the more powerful the hurricane). These storms bring a myriad of challenges, from strong winds and heavy rainfall to tornadoes, dangerous storm surges, and flooding, making them some of the most destructive natural disasters. 

A tropical cyclone is a rapidly rotating storm system characterized by a closed low-pressure center, strong winds, and a spiral arrangement of thunderstorms that produce heavy rain. Depending on its strength, a tropical cyclone in the Northern Atlantic Ocean basin is referred to as a tropical depression, tropical storm, or hurricane.

A tropical depression is a tropical cyclone with maximum sustained winds of 38 mph (33 knots) or less, while a tropical storm is a tropical cyclone with maximum sustained winds ranging from 39 to 73 mph (34 to 63 knots). In contrast, a hurricane is a tropical cyclone with maximum sustained winds of 74 mph (64 knots) or higher. 

Essentially, the primary difference lies in the wind speed and the potentially destructive impact, with hurricanes being the most intense and potentially destructive of the three.

The 5 Categories of Hurricanes

The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale is a 1 to 5 rating based on a hurricane’s maximum sustained wind speed. The National Weather Service defines sustained winds with a tropical cyclone as the average wind speed over a one minute period. Wind gusts would be expected to be considerably greater than the sustained wind (3-second sample period). Saffir-Simpson estimates the potential property damage on people and places. Here are the definitions for each category.

Category 1: Wind Speed – 74-95 mph, Damage – Minimal: Damage to building structures, primarily to unanchored older model mobile homes, is possible. Loose outdoor items become projectiles, and there may be numerous power outages.

Category 2: Wind Speed – 96-110 mph, Damage – Widespread from very strong winds: Some roofing material, doors, and windows, damaged buildings. Widespread power outages for days can be expected.

Category 3 (Major): Wind Speed – 111-129 mph, Damage – Extensive from dangerous winds: Some structural damage to small residences, power outages lasting several days or weeks, and mobile homes destroyed.

Category 4 (Major): Wind Speed – 130-156 mph, Damage – Devastating from extremely dangerous winds: Some wall failures with complete house roof structure failures, extensive damage to doors and windows.

Category 5 (Major): Wind Speed – 157 mph or higher, Damage – Catastrophic: Complete roof failure on many residences and industrial buildings, power outages for weeks to possibly months.

Understanding hurricanes and their category strength can help you stay safe and protected when these powerful storms make landfall. But more specifically, what kind of problems or disturbances can these storms cause you – or your business – on the ground?

The Impact of Hurricanes in the USA

Devastating hurricanes have struck the US coastline from the Northeast/New England to Texas, leaving behind a trail of destruction. Understanding the historical impact of hurricanes can help us better anticipate and mitigate potential risks.

Common Hurricane Problems to Watch Out For

Storm Surge: One of the most significant threats during a hurricane, storm surge is the abnormal rise of water generated by a storm’s winds. It can lead to extensive coastal flooding, posing a severe risk to life and property.

Flooding: Hurricanes often bring torrential rainfall, leading to widespread flooding that can overwhelm drainage systems and cause rivers to overflow their banks, resulting in significant water damage.

High Winds: Hurricane-force winds can cause structural damage, uproot trees, and propel debris, posing a severe safety hazard to both individuals and buildings.

Tornadoes: Hurricanes can spawn tornadoes, adding another layer of danger by creating localized destructive winds.

With all of this in mind, it’s important to keep an eye out. And according to a plethora of studies and research, the 2024 hurricane season is one you definitely have to watch out for. Let’s find out why.

Looking Ahead to the 2024 Hurricane Season

Every hurricane season is different, relying heavily on weather patterns that play out throughout the year. But early models show that this hurricane season is going to be an active one. What can you expect and how can you stay safe?

Forecast Overview: Experts are projecting a “super-charged” hurricane season for 2024. This heightened activity is attributed to the return of La Niña and the historically warm Atlantic Ocean. 

The Role of La Niña: Transitioning from El Niño to La Niña during the hurricane season impacts the likelihood of tropical storms. La Niña reduces atmospheric vertical wind shear, which is a critical factor in enabling hurricanes to form and intensify. This phenomenon was a contributing factor to the onslaught of Category 5 hurricanes during the infamous 2005 season and the record-breaking 2020 hurricane season.

Warm Atlantic Waters: As of February, Atlantic sea temperatures were mirroring mid-July levels, a clear indicator of the potential for storms to rapidly strengthen, even when nearing land. Similarly, record warm ocean temperatures in the Atlantic’s main development region further substantiate the forecast for an active hurricane season.

While predictive models have their limitations, it seems like all stars are aligning for a particularly rough hurricane season, making it imperative for individuals and businesses alike to gear up well in advance. 

Hurricane Season and Preparedness

Hurricane season in the USA typically runs from June 1 to November 30, during which the risk of severe storms is heightened – and with predictions showing an increase in activity this year, the time to start planning is now. It’s essential for individuals and businesses to have a solid emergency plan in place to ensure their safety and the protection of their assets. 

Steps to Stay Safe and Protect Your Home and Business this Hurricane Season

Stay Informed: Monitor weather updates from reliable sources and heed evacuation orders from local authorities.

Prepare an Emergency Kit: Assemble essential supplies like food, water, medications, flashlights, batteries, and important documents in a waterproof container.

Secure Your Property: Trim trees, secure outdoor furniture, and invest in storm shutters to protect windows from high winds.

Develop an Evacuation Plan: Know your evacuation routes and have a plan in place for where to go if you need to leave your home.

Protect Your Business: Back up important data, secure equipment, and consider obtaining supplemental insurance like Vortex Supplemental Hurricane Insurance to safeguard your business assets and lessen the impact of the business interruption.

The Impact of Hurricanes on Your Business: How to Stay Protected

It’s not just homes that are impacted by these hurricanes, but businesses too.

Hurricanes can have profound implications for businesses, making it crucial for business leaders to understand their potential ramifications. 

When a hurricane strikes, businesses in the affected areas may experience severe property damage, disruptions to supply chains, and significant financial losses. 

Power outages, road closures and other transportation disruptions can hinder businesses’ ability to receive and ship products, leading to production and delivery delays, causing lost revenue. Additionally, hurricanes can result in the loss of customers, as residents prioritize rebuilding their homes and lives over spending money on non-essential goods and services. 

Understanding the potential impact of hurricanes on your business is essential for developing comprehensive hurricane risk management and continuity plans.

Vortex Supplemental Hurricane Insurance Can Save the Day

Traditional property and casualty insurance may not always provide adequate coverage to safeguard your business against the uncertainties of hurricane season. That’s where Vortex Supplemental Hurricane Insurance comes into play. 

Designed to fill the gaps left behind by standard insurance policies – such as increased deductibles, Vortex offers a tailored solution to help businesses mitigate risk and recover from hurricane-related damages in a rapid, hassle-free manner.

Explore Our Supplemental Hurricane Insurance

Stay Safe, Stay Protected

As we navigate through the upcoming hurricane season, prioritizing safety and preparedness is paramount. By understanding the dynamics of hurricanes, being proactive in our planning, and investing in reliable insurance coverage like Vortex Supplemental Hurricane Insurance, we can face the season with confidence and resilience. Stay informed, stay prepared, and stay protected this hurricane season.