What’s true and what’s not about properly preparing for a storm.
MYTH #1: Taping your window and glass doors is the best method to keep them from breaking.
The Truth: Although almost seven in ten people believed taping windows and glass doors is the right thing to do in hurricane preparation, according to a 2012 survey commissioned by the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH), taping your windows is definitely not an appropriate form of hurricane preparedness. In fact, it can be quite dangerous because a taped window will not hold up to wind-driven debris. One reason this practice has persisted, perhaps, is the belief that it reduces the amount of shatter and makes for easier clean-up. However, it’s actually more dangerous because the pieces of glass that do break are larger. “The first fatality from Hurricane Charley (2004) was someone standing behind a sliding glass door with solar film,” said FLASH president and chief executive officer Leslie Chapman-Henderson. Use approved hurricane shutters or emergency plywood shutters instead.
MYTH #2: Only reinforce windows and doors facing the direction the hurricane is coming from.
The Truth: Hurricanes are huge and the wind fields they create are vast. Although there may be a moment when only one side of your house is experiencing those winds, it is sure to be a short one. When a hurricane is overhead, every door and window will eventually face the wind and everything that is blowing with it. For this reason, prepare your home for a hurricane by reinforcing every opening you can.
MYTH #3 Hurricanes only happen between June 1st and November 30th (hurricane season).
The Truth: Both hurricanes and tropical storms have been recorded in every single month of the year. Even though most do take place during hurricane season, they have happened out of season before and most likely will happen again.
MYTH #4: Tropical storms and Category 1 hurricanes are no big deal.
The Truth: For those of us who have lived through strong hurricanes, there may be a feeling that they’ve been through worse, so these storms and their lower winds speeds are easy-peasy.
In truth, the worst thing about a hurricane or tropical storm is NOT the wind speeds. They are certainly very destructive, and the stronger the winds the more the destruction, but the most dangerous part of a storm is water from storm surge.
MYTH #5: If Bermuda is on the outside edge of the “cone of uncertainty,” we’re relatively safe from the storm.
The Truth: You may have heard the term “cone of uncertainty,” which is a representation of the potential path of a hurricane. Even for experienced meteorologists, predicting the path of a storm is difficult; there are far too many variables at play to know for sure. However, they are often able to make general predictions about the path, which they illustrate using this cone.
Unfortunately, some people assume that the centre of the hurricane is situated at the centre of the cone, and that the surrounding area represents the size or outer bands of the storm. This leads them to believe that the outer edge of the cone is safe, which is far from true. In actuality, the centre of the storm could pass over any point within the cone.
MYTH #6: If it is clear outside, you’re safe. If you look outside and the sky is clear and the winds are calm, the hurricane has passed and you are safe.
The Truth: As you may know, hurricanes are massive storms with a clear, calm space in the centre known as the eye. The eye of a hurricane can be huge, spanning 20–40 miles, so it is possible that the calm you are experiencing isn’t the calm after the storm, but the calm in the very centre of it. This means that a calm sky doesn’t always signify that the worst has passed. In fact, some of the most severe winds—the winds of the eye-wall—could be inbound, followed by the second half of the storm.
MYTH #7: Sea-surface temperatures are warm, and therefore the storm or hurricane will intensify.
The Truth: Sea-surface temperatures (SSTs) are only one factor affecting storm intensity. They are indeed a measure of the potential peak strength of a tropical cyclone, however, the presence of warm SSTs does not guarantee a tropical storm or hurricane will intensify. A steady diet of dry air and wind shear can squelch tropical development even with warm water present. In general, these twin nemeses disrupt the organisation of convection around the tropical cyclone’s centre.
MYTH #8: I only need to prepare for a few days.
The Truth: If a hurricane is in your path, you need to prepare for more than a few days. Hurricanes can devastate an area and limit access or leave you without power for more than a day or two. Ensure you have a two-week supply of medication and several days of non-perishable food and water.
For information regarding how to prepare for an impending storm, contact BF&M.
Read more from our Hurricane Season 2023 series, HERE!