Three elements of a hurricane make the news when it threatens landfall: wind, flooding caused by rain, and storm surge.
The storm surge raises water levels above the normal high tide, often cutting off roads and flooding homes. It can even lift a boat off its dock and piling.
Wind speeds are how we measure a hurricane’s strength. A Category 1 storm must have sustained wind speeds of at least 74 miles per hour (119 kph). Otherwise, it is considered a tropical storm instead.
The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale notes that a Category 5 hurricane must have wind speeds of 157 mph (252 kph) to receive that designation. When a storm is that strong, some impacted areas may be uninhabitable for several months.
If you know what to expect from a hurricane, it’s much easier to plan for what happens after it makes landfall. Here is what you need to know when a hurricane creeps up on South Florida.
Gas station outages before and after a hurricane
The average gas station has a relatively limited storage capacity. Your typical South Florida neighborhood stop might store as much as 30,000 gallons, but it could be as little as one-third of that amount.
You can guess how much is available by looking at the number of filling pumps available to use. If you see three octane selections, you’ll be closer to the maximum amount.
Small, remote gas stations might not have the capacity to manage even 1,000 gallons. That’s why it can be challenging to fill up in the first couple of days after a hurricane.
Some gas stations can run out of gas a few days before the storm, so it’s best to go to your local gas station earlier rather than later.
Store closings after a storm
Most stores in South Florida close their doors when a hurricane arrives. You can expect most services to stop about 24 hours before the storm and the same time after.
If the hurricane causes extensive damage to your community, it could be a week or more before essential services become available again.
Since supplies can run low quickly after a hurricane, try to first stock up on non-perishable food, water, and fuel.
Expect cash-only transactions after a hurricane if the power is out
Debit and credit cards require electronic transmissions to communicate between stores, processors, and banks. Even if battery power is available for a terminal, there must be an Internet or data connection that transmits the data.
Since a hurricane can take down cellular towers, there aren’t guaranteed signals to use for payment processing.
You can expect stores to require cash if they can open in the days after a storm. That’s why a visit to your bank, credit union, or local ATM before the hurricane arrives is helpful. You’ll get the chance to pick up a few things if you run low on supplies.
Every storm is different. After you’ve stocked up on supplies, you can expect the power to be out for an extended time. If the event is small, the outage might last for a day or two.
It’s not unusual for people to lose power for four or more days in South Florida.
When a severe storm makes landfall, it can be two weeks or more before electricity gets restored to everyone.
That’s why it helps to stock 14 days of food and water at home to ensure you have enough to survive if a powerful storm blows through your area.
It may be worth it to invest in a small generator to power your refrigerator, freezer, and possibly a small portable air conditioner. During the summer months, and due to the increased humidity after a storm it can get very hot.
Even if Internet lines are underground in your neighborhood, flooding events and property damage can disrupt connections.
High wind speeds can take down airborne cables alongside power lines with relative ease.
It’s often easier to get a cellular connection before getting a signal from your Internet Service Provider after a hurricane. If you work online, you’ll want to think about how to supply safe power to your equipment.
You can use a portable power station to have usable electricity for your modem and router if your connection is available. But keep in mind, that your internet provider may also be dealing with power outages or damage as well.
Most people describe the sound of a hurricane as an oncoming train. There can be whistling noises as the wind whips around buildings or debris impacts the home.
If you live by the beach, you’ll hear the crashing surf coming to shore as part of the noise. It’s very similar to a white noise generator, but you’ll listen to everything in different “pulses” than a steady sound in most storms.
A temporary calm in the eye of the hurricane
The eye of a hurricane is a place where mostly calm weather occurs. It’s at the center of the storm, creating a peaceful place up to 40 miles in diameter. All tropical storms rotate around a center with those attributes.
People come out when the eye is overhead, thinking that the worst of the storm is over. If anything, that time is when you should prepare for the worst.
A hurricane can have two eyes. When two storms connect, the Fujiwhara Effect slowly causes them to eventually rotate around a common center. An intense hurricane can develop this trait during an eyewall replacement cycle.
Even the smallest hurricanes have the potential to cause significant damage. That’s why being prepared, understanding what to expect, and how to recover after should be part of the planning process.
It might make sense to get hurricane protection
Hurricane protection can give you peace of mind. We’ve been providing hurricane protection such as impact windows and hurricane shutters for over 30 years. Get in contact with us for more storm guidance and tips for how you can stay safe and prepared for hurricanes.