Places at Risk of Hurricanes
A hurricane is known by many names like tropical cyclone, typhoon, hurricane, etc. Hurricanes have become more powerful over the years. The catastrophe they wreak has become more and more frequent. For example, hurricanes Irma and Maria happened back-to-back, devastating Puerto Rico to a point where they are still trying to recover, 5 years later.
The Southeast part of the United States is an area that is the most susceptible to hurricanes. That's why as a prepper you need to take precautions and be aware of whether or not you live in an area prone to hurricanes like these.
What Causes Hurricanes?
For a hurricane to occur, it needs two elements: water and air. More specifically, a hurricane will need warm water and moist warm air. These are the key ingredients that lead to the development of a hurricane. This combination is one of the reasons why hurricanes typically form in tropical waters during the warmest times of year.
The warm tropical waters and humid air make for the perfect conditions to cook up a hurricane:
- Warm water from the oceans evaporates quickly
- This warm humid air begins to rise rapidly, forming a low-pressure area
- On its way up, the air begins to cool, forming storm clouds
- In the clouds the humid air turns into droplets adding more heat to the storm
- Now, we have a perfect environment for a tropical storm to develop, possibly later turning into a hurricane
This cycle of heat exchange may go on for days before a hurricane forms. If the winds pick up over 74 mph, the storm is officially classified as a hurricane.
Top 6 States Affected by Hurricanes
Hurricanes and other catastrophes can leave people who weren't prepared stranded and desolate. As a prepper, the goal is to be prepared for any possible life-altering event like a category 5 hurricane.
Knowing how likely your area is to be hit by a hurricane will help determine how prepared you should be. Below are the top 6 states regularly affected by hurricanes:
- North Carolina
- South Carolina
Florida is known for its clear blue skies. This tropical paradise is a go-to summer destination for people who want to spend their time relaxing on the beach under the sun. But Florida is located in the southeastern part of the United States, in a hurricane-prone zone. So, from June to November, a hurricane can form and make landfall at any time.
Florida has witnessed over 120 major hurricanes since it was founded. Two of these major hurricanes stand out: the 1935 Labor Day hurricane and Hurricane Michael in 2018.
Hurricane Michael became the first category 5 storm to hit the Florida panhandle directly. As the strongest storm of the season, Michael whipped around peak winds of 160 mph. caused floods and 59 deaths during its course through Florida on the way to Georgia.
But that was nothing compared to the Labor Day hurricane. First passing along the Florida Keys causing a 20ft storm surge over the islands. After passing along the keys, it made landfall in northwest Florida near Cedar Key. It was once described as the most compact, intense, and catastrophic hurricane in the northern part of Florida. Towns were run down to the ground and floods killed over 400 people in its path.
Texas tops the list at the 2nd most popular state to be hit by hurricanes. Being on the Gulf of Mexico makes this large state a hefty target. Preppers living in Southeast parts of Texas should take all hurricane warnings seriously. The tropical waters of the Gulf of Mexico mixed with the ocean currents and the wind patterns establish Texas as a hurricane prone state with over 65 major hurricanes having hit the state “where everything is bigger.”
Hurricane Harvey was a category 4 hurricane that hit primarily Texas and Louisiana in 2017. It was so catastrophic to the Texas infrastructure that it is often compared to the likes of Hurricane Katrina when talking about damage costs, causing 125 billion dollars’ worth of damage. However simultaneously lucky for those who survived and unfortunate for those who didn’t, the death toll of Harvey was immeasurably lower than that of Katrina, at just over 100 deaths. Still, over 30,000 residents lost their homes in its wake.
Number 3 on this list, who can forget the devastation that Hurricane Katrina caused in 2005? It is still regarded as one of the most catastrophic of hurricanes to ever occur in the southern region of the United States.
Hurricane Katrina was a category 5 hurricane that breached and broke the levees in New Orleans. Katrina caused $125 billion dollars’ worth of damage. Even now, some parts of Louisiana have not fully recovered.
Additionally, sadly for scores of families, Katrina claimed the lives of over 1800 people. Not to mention displacing nearly 1 million people from their homes and forcing many businesses to permanently close.
The year 1954 is remembered for what is referred to as the costliest Atlantic hurricane season of its time. Hurricane hazel was the deadliest and most intense hurricane to hit that season. As a category 4 hurricane, it killed almost 500 people in Haiti before getting to the US, hitting the Carolinas, killing another 95 people. Continuing, Hazel then reached Canada taking another 80+ souls with it.
Outside of the high death toll, hurricane Hazel decimated the Carolina Coasts, especially Long Beach, North Carolina. After the 18 ft storm surge annihilated the coast, only 5 of its 357 buildings were still standing. Many say it was as if all traces of life on that beach were just swept away. Hazel topped out at 120 mph winds destroying forests and over 15,000 homes. She also dropped over 11 inches of rain in North Carolina alone.
South Carolina was one of the states affected by the notorious hurricane, Hugo, that terrorized and inflicted billions of dollars in damages in the Northeastern Caribbean and the southeastern parts of the United States in 1989. Hugo was the costliest hurricane to hit the US at the time of landfall.
As if the rain, storm surge, and high sustained winds that came along with Hugo weren’t enough, there were reports of tornados popping up in South Carolina, further destroying the United States. There were 26 direct fatalities in the US, while South Carolina saw half of those deaths alone. If we include indirect fatalities, there were over 70 indirect deaths across the Carolinas, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands.
Unfortunately, Alabama is one of those states that is a double-whammy state. Alabama gets an average of 44 tornados a year while they can go years without a hurricane hitting their coast directly. A notable hurricane to hit Alabama was hurricane Ivan in 2004. Ivan was a long-lived Cape Verde Tropical Cyclone that started all the way near West Africa.
After traveling across the Atlantic Ocean, devastating the Caribbean on its way, Ivan finally made landfall as a category 3 hurricane. Hurricane Ivan fluctuated between various intensity levels throughout its course, even reaching to a category 5. It was a category 3 in Grenada, a category 4 in Jamaica, and a strong category 5 in Cuba; thankfully weakening again before hitting the US.
In total, hurricane Ivan caused $26 billion in damages, with $20 billion of that being in the United States. Alabama felt the strongest winds in the United States at 145 mph. A storm surge of 14 feet devastating coastal hotels, condos, and houses on pilings. Thankfully, while Alabama got the brunt of the wind and storm surge, no Alabamans were killed during Ivan.
As we know, mainland USA is not the only area affected by tropical storms and hurricanes. After all, the Southeastern portion of the United States is only subtropical, there is a whole slew of tropical islands for hurricanes to run over on their way to our country.
The 1932 Cuba hurricane also called the hurricane of Santa Cruz del Sur was the deadliest hurricane in Cuban history. It has since, still been the only Category 5 hurricane to form in November.
Cuba saw the biggest blow from this hurricane. Santa Cruz del Sur, a town in central Cuba, was practically obliterated by a 21ft storm surge produced by this 1932 Hurricane. Only a few buildings even remained standing once the surge waters receded. Over 3,000 Cuban people lost their lives to this hurricane. In 1932, they estimated about $40 million in damages, that’s over $780 million today.
In a more recent event, the Bahamas were devastated by Hurricane Dorian in 2019. Known for being a luxury vacation destination experienced one of the harshest hurricanes to ever hit the country.
Hurricane Dorian hit the Abaco Islands as a category 5 hurricane before reaching to the Grand Bahama Island the very next day and wreaking even more havoc. It sat atop Grand Bahama Island for over a full day before continuing its destructive path. Dorian left behind over $3 billion dollars’ worth of damage. Reported deaths racked up to 74 people while another almost 300 people were reported missing.
In 1979, Hurricane David resulted in major loss of life and damage to property across Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Hurricane David was only 1 of 2 Category 5 hurricanes to make landfall on the island in the 20th century.
David dropped torrential rainfall, leading to heavy river flooding. Floods swept entire villages away and killing almost 70% of the country’s crops. The Dominican Republic lost over 2,000 deaths. Another 200,000 locals were made homeless in the aftermath.
The 2017 Atlantic Hurricane Season saw 2 major hurricanes impact Puerto Rico, one right after the other. September 2017 hurricane Irma caused $1 billion in damages and took 4 lives, without even fully hitting Puerto Rico.
Just a week or so later saw Category 4 Hurricane Maria make direct contact with Puerto Rico, further destroying the beloved US Territory. Maria was so powerful and devastating that it caused a humanitarian crisis. She was the most powerful storm to hit the country in almost 90 years.
Almost 3,000 lives were taking during Hurricane Maria. She caused another $90 billion dollars in damages, effectively crippling the entire island. The storm surge, heavy rains, and 100 mph winds flattened neighborhoods, destroyed the power-grid and flooded cities.
Hurricanes are natural disasters that usually start small but can intensify to destroy communities and claim thousands of lives in one fell swoop. What makes them so much scarier is that they can start all the way near Africa, making their way all the way over to places like Alabama, all while still being strong enough to take lives and damage billions of dollars’ worth of infrastructure.
As a prepper be sure to stock up on shelf stable food and clean drinking water. Always have a plan B like an evacuation route and a place you plan to evacuate to. Having portable chargers, a generator, charcoal grill, and other comfort supplies can help make the whole ordeal just a little bit more bearable.