For U.S. residents along the Atlantic or Gulf of Mexico coast, hurricane season officially began June 1. If the latest projections prove to be true, this year will see an above average number of storms. In fact, Tropical Storm Arlene kicked things off a little early on April 20, and there have been four other tropical storms since then.
As we enter peak season, what should coastal residents know about the 2017 hurricane season? Here’s a run down of important predictions and changes.
- TSR (tropicalstormrisk.com) predicts six hurricanes for the 2017 season, including three major hurricanes (Category 3-5). The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) forecasts up to 17 named storms, including tropical storms (the 30-year average is 12).
- CoreLogic estimates that 15.7 million homes along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts may experience hurricane force winds, and more than 45 million homes can expect to see tropical storm force winds or greater. The estimated reconstruction value of Atlantic and Gulf coastal homes that are at risk from hurricane damage this season is $9.7 trillion dollars. (Source: CoreLogic)
- The 2017 CoreLogic Storm Surge Report found that nearly 6.9 million homes along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts are at risk of storm surge damage. Florida, Louisiana and Texas have the most homes at risk. (Source: CoreLogic)
- The National Hurricane Center (NHC) will employ two new warning levels including an early warning system for “potential tropical cyclones” that will identify storms that have the potential to develop into a land-based storm surge or hurricane. The NHC will also start issuing storm surge warnings and watches. According to the NHC, “Storm surge is often the greatest threat to life and property from a tropical cyclone, and it doesn’t always occur at the same times or locations as a storm’s hazardous winds.” (Source: Weather.com)
Hurricane damage and loss of life is generally attributed to three hazards:
- Strong winds of up to 150 miles per hour. Tornadoes may also occur.
- Winds pushing water onto land (a storm surge).
- Heavy rain that can cause flooding, even inland.
While homes close to the coast are the most vulnerable to storm surge damage, winds and heavy rains can cause damage further inland depending on the size of the storm and the intensity when it makes landfall. The level of damage varies based on the Category.
While there have been no “major” hurricanes (Category 3 or above) to make landfall in the U.S. since 2005, even Category 1 storms such as last year’s hurricane Matthew can cause flooding and wind damage (estimated at nearly $6 billion). Five years ago Superstorm Sandy, which had been downgraded from a Category 3 hurricane to a post-tropical cyclone when it made landfall in New Jersey, decimated several communities, claiming dozens of lives and causing an estimated $65 billion in damages.
If you’re considering buying a home in a coastal region, it’s important to know how hurricanes have affected the area and whether or not the property is in a flood zone (although homes not in a high risk zone can still be vulnerable to flooding, especially during a hurricane).
Be sure to get a Housefax Report on your potential new home to find the property’s flood zone designation and a history of natural disasters in the area, as well as any permits related to previous damage.