CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - The 2012 hurricane season has not even begun, and already two tropical storms have formed, with Beryl affecting much of the East coast. This week is National Hurricane Preparedness week, and the National Weather Service is stressing that you should be prepared long before our next storm.
The Saffir-Simpson scale that ranks the strength of hurricanes accounts for the wind, but strong winds are not the most dangerous aspect of a storm moving ashore.
"More people died from inland flooding from 1970 through 2000 than from any other hurricane hazard." says Meteorologist Dan Gregoria, a forecaster with the National Weather Service. "When it comes to hurricanes, wind speeds don't tell the whole story." Roughly 60% of hurricane-related deaths occur from freshwater flooding, with winds responsible for only 12% of hurricane fatalities.
These storms lose a lot of their potency once they move over land, but they're often very large, threatening more than just the coastal communities. Inland flooding can be a major threat to communities hundreds of miles from the coasts.
Even though Beryl never strengthened into a hurricane, storms like it are still capable of destruction.
Gregoria points out that some of the worst flooding events have occurred from weaker storms that drift slowly or stall over an area.
2001's Tropical Storm Allison produced extremely heavy rainfall and catastrophic floods in and around Houston, Texas, killing 41 and causing $5 billion in damage. The damage from Allison was so extensive that the name was retired. It's the only storm to have its name retired without ever reaching hurricane strength.
Flood damage is not usually covered by homeowners insurance. You may need a separate policy, and with hurricane season right around the corner, sooner is better than later to make sure you're covered.