Every year when hurricane season comes around, businesses and homeowners face a higher risk of loss for a few months. The Atlantic hurricane season typically runs from June 1st through November 30th, and experts predict the severity of the season annually to help homeowners and businesses in high-risk areas properly prepare for the potential impact. Due to climate change and warmer-than-average water, Colorado State University’s climatologists have announced they anticipate an “above average” season with more damaging storms than prior years. Given the heightened forecast for named storms and expanded areas of vulnerability, it's crucial to know who needs to prepare, and how best to safeguard during the ongoing hurricane season.
What Classifies a Hurricane?
The National Weather Service defines a hurricane as a well-defined system of showers with a well-defined circulation center and maximum winds of 74 miles per hour. Categories can range from 1 to 5, with 5 being the strongest possible hurricane. Tropical storms also require well-defined systems of showers with circulation centers, however, their wind range falls between 39 mph and 73. Most tropical storm activity tends to occur prior to the hurricane season threshold, but can still occur throughout the season as well.
2023 Atlantic Hurricane Season Predictions
Only a few weeks into the hurricane season, Colorado State climatologists released a statement that predictions for storms have increased due to climate change and current weather patterns. Record sea surface temperatures indicate a more intense season than previously predicted, and now estimate 18 named storms, nine of which are hurricanes and four of which are severe hurricanes reaching categories 3-5. The average season only contains 14 named storms and up to three severe hurricanes. While the number of severe hurricanes may seem similar, one hurricane has an average cost of $20 billion in damages. Even one or two additional storms can dramatically change the landscape of the overall season.
The Atlantic hurricane landscape covers the Atlantic Ocean, the Caribbean Sea, and the Gulf of Mexico. States along the coast of the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico are most directly affected, including Florida, Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, and Texas. As the severity of storms increases, areas further inland are subject to damage as well as more northern states like South Carolina. Any states that fall into the Atlantic Hurricane region should take proactive measures to ensure they are equipped to handle severe storms or more frequent storms than in prior years, based on the recent prediction from Colorado State.
Essential Steps to Protect Your Assets
Hurricane season can wreak havoc on both homes and businesses. Taking proactive measures and ensuring there are concrete plans set in place to reduce the impact of damage can protect your home and organization from financial disaster. Some aspects to include in your hurricane prevention this season include:
Stay Informed on Hurricane Patterns
Hurricanes tend to occur within a general season, but since the season lasts multiple months it’s important to stay on track of local weather patterns. Subscribing to weather alerts and following updates from local and national news will ensure you stay aware of any upcoming storms. The National Hurricane Center can provide information on areas of impact as well as severity and evacuation measures so you can make necessary safety preparations.
Secure Your Property
Property damage is the biggest concern for most business owners and homeowners during hurricane season. Severe storms can cause a total loss, and even lower-category storms can cause significant damage if proper steps aren’t taken. Ensure that hurricane-safe windows and doors are installed and properly secured ahead of any storms. For wooded areas, trimming trees and any branches that could break off during a storm is highly recommended. Remove any loose belongings on your property and secure them in an indoor space. In addition, ensure you have regular roof inspections and make any updates to your building structure that could be vulnerable during a storm.
Backup Your Data
Physical structures aren’t the only property at risk during a hurricane. Electronic data could be lost completely if information and communication technology are damaged during a storm. This is especially important for businesses and organizations that rely heavily on data and stored information for their day-to-day operations. Ahead of any storm ensure that all data is completely backed up on a cloud-based software or portable file. It’s also recommended to run preparedness tests ahead of storms to ensure your technological safety processes are adequate.
Shut Down Harmful Equipment
Electronic equipment is at risk of lightning strikes during a storm that could cause an electricity surge within your building. Before any storm, unplug all appliances and do not touch any electronic equipment while wet. Even with a surge protector, it's unsafe to leave anything plugged in as could lead to worse damage. Flammable equipment is also at risk and should be secured and monitored.
Purchase Adequate Insurance
Having an emergency plan in the event of a hurricane can drastically reduce the level of damage to your business or home, but damage is sometimes inevitable. If you live in a high-risk area or within close limits to one, it's crucial to have an insurance program in place to protect your assets in the event of a loss. Hurricanes can lead to property damage, information loss, personal injury, business interruption, and more. Having the proper steps in your preparedness plan can reduce the overall cost of your insurance and lessen the severity of damage while providing peace of mind in the event of a claim. It’s recommended to have a property and casualty policy as well as separate hurricane and flood insurance to provide high enough coverage limits and covered perils.
Protect Your Assets This Hurricane Season with ECBM
With a higher-than-average hurricane season, it's more important than ever to have adequate insurance coverage to protect your business or home. ECBM works with top-rated carriers to build optimal insurance programs for both personal and commercial needs, ensuring you have no gaps in coverage and are fully protected in the event of weather-related claims. Our risk advisors can consult you on your emergency plans, make recommendations, and improve your overall risk management strategy. For more information on how we can serve your business or personal needs, contact one of our agents.