While the 2014 long range forecast has predicted a less than active season, this year’s conservative forecasts is not a free pass to practice apathy. History has shown us that despite our best predictions, mother nature still calls all of the shots. Here are three and a half historical reasons not to let the long range forecast negatively impact your level of preparedness this season.
#1. 1983’s Hurricane Alicia – Category 3
The first hurricane to hit the Texas area in over three years, Hurricane Alicia was only one of four named storms during the 1983 season. The Category 3 hurricane hit the Houston-Galveston, Texas area bringing with it 115mph wind gusts, 23 tornadoes, claiming 21 lives and leaving behind over $2.6B dollars in damage ($6.6B in 2014 USD).
It wasn’t until 1999 that the area saw another major Hurricane (Category 3 or higher). A good reminder that “rare” doesn’t mean “never”.
#2. 1992’s Hurricane Andrew – Category 5
At the start of the 1992 hurricane season, forecasters predicted a quiet season, similar to this year’s predictions. In the end, the season stayed relatively true to its initial forecast with only six named storms and one subtropical storm. Despite the number of actual storms that season, Hurricane Andrew contributed to making the 1992 season one of the costliest in US History.
Over 60,000 homes were destroyed and nearly 175,000 people were left temporarily homeless in parts of Florida. The impact was felt as far east as Louisiana where close to 3,000 homes were destroyed and left nearly 150,000 residents without electricity. In the end, the storm caused over $26B in damage and claimed 65 lives.
At the time, Hurricane Andrew was the costliest hurricane in US History.
#3. Hurricane Sandy – Category 3 (Category 1 upon landfall on the northern seaboard)
Still fresh in many minds, Superstorm Sandy lives as one of the most surprisingly destructive natural disasters to hit the United States. The mere Category 1 storm never saw winds above 90 mph on landfall but still caused catastrophic damage, some of which can still be seen today. The storm impacted a total of 24 states stretching from Florida to Maine and left over 8 million people without power.
A study by The Hartford found that 52 percent of small and medium-size businesses in New York City, New Jersey, Connecticut and the surrounding areas said they experienced a sales or revenue loss because of the storm. In addition to small businesses, the New York Stock Exchange remained closed for two consecutive days, the first time in 124 years (1888). All told, the storm left behind over $68B dollars in damages, a number only surpassed by 2005’s Hurricane Katrina.
#3.5: Tropical Storms
It’s just as crucial to remember the damages associated with less powerful systems such as tropical storms, including flooding, severe storms and storm surge. In 2001, Tropical Storm Allison swamped Houston and Southeast Texas and left behind close to $9B in damages.
As you prepare for the 2014 Hurricane season, it’s important to remember one thing. In the end, it only takes ONE hurricane to turn a quiet season into a record breaking year.