Hurricane season: How the hazards change depending on location
August 29, 2023
Hazards highly depend on your location
We know, every year there are lots of anticipation about hurricane season. Loads of information could be overwhelming. This is exactly why this week we are presenting you with the most important steps to take now and the information you must know in order to feel less overwhelmed and cut the noise down. In this article, we are focusing on how hazards from the same storm can greatly vary depending on your location and what impacts your area might have gone through in recent times.
Assessing risks and hazards:
First things first, assess your local risk to hurricanes level and their hazards for your area. For example, if you live near the coast, you may be more susceptible to coastal inundation and extreme winds.
On the contrary, if you live inland and on higher ground, your main hazards could be strong winds, flash flooding, and if you are near hills, mudslides. Once you have analyzed your risk level, it is essential to plan how you would respond to such situations.
Additionally, when considering risk level, remember to take into consideration that hurricane effects can be felt hundreds of miles away from the storm center. For example, only a handful of storms have made a direct hit over Miami, Fla (e.g., left panel on the image below).
When we consider storms within a 30-mile radius of Miami, we can add dozens more to the list, including hurricane Andrew which had devastating effects across the entirety of Southeast Florida.
There are also times when a hurricane or tropical storm can produce storm surge near rivers and canals. Perhaps the hurricane has been downgraded, but the winds can still produce storm surges in rivers that can flood nearby communities.
In other cases, a hurricane can be so powerful that its storm surge can bring seawater more than 20 miles inland, like when Hurricane Laura impacted Louisiana and the storm surge penetrated between 23-30 miles inland.
One important factor to consider is that many times, even after a storm has officially lost its name or tropical characteristics, it can still bring major damage well inland. In 2021, Hurricane Ida made landfall in Louisiana and was not even a tropical storm when it traveled over the Northeast. Nonetheless, Ida’s remnants impacted the Mid-Atlantic, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and New York causing extensive and devastating damage.