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Hazards - Hurricane
Overview of the Hazard
Hurricanes are massive storm systems that form over the ocean and move toward land. When a storm's maximum sustained winds reach 74 mph, it is called a hurricane. The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale is rated between a 1 through 5 category based on a hurricane's maximum sustained winds. The higher the category, the greater the hurricane's potential for property damage. Threats from hurricanes include high winds, heavy rainfall, storm surge, coastal and inland flooding, rip currents, and tornadoes. Due to its subtropical location and 72 miles of coastline, Brevard County is particularly susceptible to hurricanes and tropical storms.
Hazard Specific Quick Facts
- Hurricane watch = conditions possible within the next 48 hrs.
- Hurricane warning = conditions are expected within 36 hrs.
- The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 to November 30, with the peak occurring between mid-August and late October.
- The difference between a tropical storm and a hurricane is wind speed – tropical storms usually bring winds of 39-73 mph, whereas hurricane wind speeds are at least 74 mph.
- Hurricanes rotate in a counter-clockwise direction around the eye. The rotating storm clouds create the "eye wall," which is the most destructive part of the storm.
- Storm surge and rainfall flooding combined for 75 percent of all deaths in the U.S. from hurricanes, tropical storms, or tropical depressions from 1963 to 2012.
Hurricanes can cause loss of life and catastrophic damage to property along coastlines and can extend several hundred miles inland. The extent of damage varies according to the size and wind intensity of the storm, the amount and duration of rainfall, the path of the storm, and other factors such as the number and type of buildings in the area, the terrain, and soil conditions. The effects include the following:
- Death or injury to people and animals;
- Damage or destruction of buildings and other structures;
- Disruption of transportation, gas, power, communications, and other services;
- Coastal flooding from heavy rains and storm surge; and
- Inland flooding from heavy rains.
Historical events include: surge and coastal erosion.
- On September 3, 1979, Hurricane David grazed the coast of Florida as a Category 2 storm. Though it made landfall as a Category 2 storm, the strongest winds were localized to the immediate area around landfall. The highest reported winds occurred in Fort Pierce, 70 mph sustained winds and 95 mph gusts. Because the hurricane remained near the coastline, Hurricane David failed to cause extreme damage in Florida.
- Category 1 Hurricane Erin made landfall near the Sebastian Inlet in southern Brevard on August 2, 1995. This storm produced wind damage and extensive flooding countywide. It also spawned a tornado in Titusville which caused minor damage.
- The center of Category 4 Hurricane Floyd passed about 115 statute miles off the coast of east central Florida on September 15, 1999, producing wind gusts to near 70 mph. The areas hardest hit were coastal sections of Brevard.
- On August 13, 2004, Hurricane Charley swept across the state and affected northern Brevard and produced heavy debris and hurricane force wind gusts. On September 3rd, a couple of weeks after Charley, Hurricane Frances affected Brevard producing wide spread wind damage. Jeanne came through the same year on September 26th. Jeanne’s hurricane force gusts produced extensive wind damage in southern Brevard. While the southeast section of Brevard experienced some hurricane force winds, the majority of the county experienced hurricane force wind gusts and strong tropical storm force winds.
- From August 18-23, 2008, Tropical Storm Fay stalled on top of Brevard County producing record setting rain that exceeded 20 inches and caused extensive flooding.
- There have been no tropical cyclones in Brevard since 2008; however, a close to coast brush with Hurricane Sandy in 2012 produced notable winds.
What Would You Do?
- For your family
- For your business
- Don't forget those with special needs. They will require an individualized, more detailed plan. Special needs planning details can be found on the Brevard County Special Needs Planning Website. If you have pets, you will need to create a plan for them as well. For more information on preparing with pets, access the Brevard County Pet Preparedness Website.
- If you are ordered to evacuate, go immediately, as described (Here). Express to your family that this will be a stressful and emotional time in everyone’s life and that the stress can be lessened by being prepared.
- Stay Informed
- Prepare Your Home
- According to ready.gov, here are some recommended actions you can take to protect yourself and your property before an impending hurricane:
- Hurricane winds can cause trees and branches to fall, so before hurricane season trim or remove damaged trees and limbs to keep you and your property safe.
- Secure loose rain gutters and downspouts and clear any clogged areas or debris to prevent water damage to your property.
- Reduce property damage by retrofitting to secure and reinforce the roof, windows and doors, including the garage doors. Consider retrofitting your home to better withstand the potential of wind and water damage. Think through investing in commercial or home-made hurricane shutters, storm panels and security window film. These will prevent your windows from breaking.
- Remove or secure items that are typically outside. Bring patio furniture, garden tools, garbage cans, and toys inside. Anchoring storage sheds and other outbuildings helps prevent them from becoming flying debris. Anchor objects that are unsafe to bring inside, like gas grills or propane tanks.
- Purchase a portable generator or install a generator for use during power outages. Remember to keep generators and other alternate power/heat sources outside, at least 20 feet away from windows and doors and protected from moisture; and NEVER try to power the house wiring by plugging a generator into a wall outlet.
As the Storm Approaches
- Update your Homeowner’s insurance policy for adequate coverage. If you rent, obtain Renter’s insurance now. Take advantage of the Federal Flood Insurance Program for flood coverage as your Homeowner’s and Renter’s insurance does not cover losses from flooding.
- Teach family members how and when to turn off gas, electricity and water. Tell children how and when to call 911, police or the fire department, and which radio station to listen to for emergency information.
- According to ready.gov,here are recommended actions you can take as a storm approaches:
- 36 Hours before Tropical Storm Force Winds
- Turn on your TV or radio in order to get the latest weather updates and emergency instructions.
- Build or restock your emergency preparedness kit. Include a flashlight, batteries, cash, and first aid supplies.
- Plan how to communicate with family members if you lose power. For example, you can call, text, email or use social media. Remember that during disasters, sending text messages is usually reliable and faster than making phone calls because phone lines are often overloaded.
- Review your evacuation plan with your family. You may have to leave quickly so plan ahead. Review the shelter list, and wait for instructions from local officials to see which shelters will be opened for this event.
- Keep your car in good working condition, and keep the gas tank full; stock your vehicle with emergency supplies and a change of clothes.
- Refill prescriptions. Maintain at least a two-week supply of medication during hurricane season.
- 36-18 Hours before Tropical Storm Force Winds
- Stay Informed with local weather and emergency officials.
- Bring loose, lightweight objects inside that could become projectiles in high winds (e.g., patio furniture, garbage cans); anchor objects that would be unsafe to bring inside (e.g., propane tanks); and trim or remove trees close enough to fall on the building.
- Never sweep or blow yard leaves, pine needles, grass clippings or soil into the street or storm water system. This clogs up the stormwater pipes and prevents water from draining. Cover all of your home’s windows. Permanent storm shutters offer the best protection for windows. A second option is to board up windows with 5/8” exterior grade or marine plywood, cut to fit and ready to install. Brace double entry and garage doors at the top and bottom.
- Clear your yard of lawn furniture, potted plants, bicycles, trash cans and other potential airborne missiles.Leave the swimming pool filled and chlorinated. Cover the filtration system.
- If there is a chance flooding could threaten your home, move important items such as electronics, antiques and furniture off the floor.
- Secure your boat early. Drawbridges will be closed to boat traffic after an evacuation order is issued.
- 18-6 Hours before Tropical Storm Force Winds
- If you live on the barrier islands, in a low-lying or flood prone area, in a mobile or manufactured home, or you do not feel safe in your residence, monitor our information networks via Stay Informed to see which shelters are opened, and when they will start accepting evacuees.
- Stay informed: Turn on your TV/radio, or check our /NWS Melbourne/your city’s social media sites every 30 minutes in order to get the latest weather updates and emergency instructions.
- Charge your cell phone now so you will have a full battery in case you lose power.
- 6 Hours before Tropical Storm Force Winds
- If you’re in an area that is recommended for evacuation, evacuate as soon as you are instructed to do so. While we do not close the causeways before the storm, they may become unsafe to traverse as the storm’s high winds gets closer.
- If you’re not in an area that is recommended for evacuation, plan to stay at home or where you are and let friends and family know where you are.
- Close storm shutters, and stay away from windows. Flying glass from broken windows could injure you.
- Turn your refrigerator or freezer to the coldest setting and open only when necessary. If you lose power, food will last longer. Keep a thermometer in the refrigerator to be able to check the food temperature when the power is restored.
- Stay informed: Turn on your TV/radio, or check (our/ NWS Melbourne's/ your city’s) social media sites every 30 minutes in order to get the latest weather updates and emergency instructions.
- The greatest potential danger to personal safety occurs during a storm and in the direct aftermath. Below are some suggested safety tips for families and individuals to follow during a hurricane:
- Find a safe area within your home (an interior room, closet, or bathroom on the lower level) and stay inside and away from windows, skylights and glass doors.
- Do not go outside during the storm. The eye of the storm may cause a false sense of security as there will be a short period of calm, but increased winds will return. Wait until the hurricane has fully passed to venture outside.
- If flooding threatens your home, turn off electricity at the main breaker.
- If your home loses power, turn off major appliances to reduce damage.
- Beware of lightning. Stay away from electrical equipment.
- According to ready.gov,here are recommended actions you can take on what to do after a hurricane has passed:
- Listen to local officials for updates and instructions.
- Check-in with family and friends by texting or using social media.
- Return home only when authorities indicate it is safe.
- Watch out for debris and downed power lines.
- Avoid walking or driving through flood waters. Just 6 inches of moving water can knock you down, and fast-moving water can sweep your vehicle away.
- Avoid flood water as it may be electrically charged from underground or downed power lines and may hide dangerous debris or places where the ground is washed away.
- Photograph the damage to your property in order to assist in filing an insurance claim.
- Do what you can to prevent further damage to your property, (e.g., putting a tarp on a damaged roof), as insurance may not cover additional damage that occurs after the storm.
Brevard County Emergency Management Office
1746 Cedar Street
Rockledge, Florida 32955
Tel: (321) 637-6670
Fax: (321) 633-1738