Inclement Weather Tips


Tornado/Severe Winds



What should you do if your home is damaged?





















To prepare your home for a hurricane, remember these ABCs.


  • Bring inside anything from the yard that could become wind-borne. Ask neighbors to do the same.
  • Replace gravel/rock landscaping material with shredded bark to reduce damage.
  • Trim and anchor down foliage.


  • Bolt all doors with foot and head bolts a minimum of one inch in length.
  • Reinforce the garage door and tracks. (Approximately 80% of all hurricane damage is due to wind entry through garage doors.)
  • Install center supports to reinforce garage door.


  • Cover all large windows and patio doors with securely fastened, impact-resistant shutters made from plywood.


  • Strap all windows with waterproof, heavy-duty tape to prevent shattering.
  • Harness-down any freestanding fixtures in your yard.

Source: The Florida Alliance for Safe Homes. 

A storm's location is determined by tracking the longitudinal (vertical) and latitudinal (horizontal) degrees. Local, state or national weather representatives will inform you of the longitude and latitude of a given storm. To establish the storm's current position, simply find the announced longitude number and follow it to the point where it intersects with the announced latitude number.

 A hurricane watch is issued when hurricane conditions are possible within 36 hours.
A hurricane warning is issued when a hurricane is expected to make landfall within 24 hours.


The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale is a 1-5 rating based on the hurricane's present intensity. This is used to give an estimate of the potential property damage and flooding expected along the coast from a hurricane landfall. Wind speed is the determining factor in the scale, as storm surge values are highly dependent on the slope of the continental shelf in the landfall region. Note that all winds are using the U.S. 1-minute average.

Category One Hurricane: Winds 74-95 mph (64-82 kt or 119-153 kph). Storm surge generally 4-5 ft above normal. No real damage to building structures. Damage primarily to unanchored mobile homes, shrubbery, and trees. Some damage to poorly constructed signs. Also, some coastal road flooding and minor pier damage. Hurricanes Allison of 1995 and Danny of 1997 were Category One hurricanes at peak intensity.

Category Two Hurricane: Winds 96-110 mph (83-95 kt or 154-177 kph). Storm surge generally 6-8 feet above normal. Some roofing material, door, and window damage of buildings. Considerable damage to shrubbery and trees with some trees blown down. Considerable damage to mobile homes, poorly constructed signs, and piers. Coastal and low-lying escape routes flood 2-4 hours before arrival of the hurricane center. Small craft in unprotected anchorages break moorings. Hurricane Bertha of 1996 was a Category Two hurricane when it hit the North Carolina coast, while Hurricane Marilyn of 1995 was a Category Two Hurricane when it passed through the Virgin Islands.

Category Three Hurricane: Winds 111-130 mph (96-113 kt or 178-209 kph). Storm surge generally 9-12 ft above normal. Some structural damage to small residences and utility buildings with a minor amount of curtainwall failures. Damage to shrubbery and trees with foliage blown off trees and large tress blown down. Mobile homes and poorly constructed signs are destroyed. Low-lying escape routes are cut by rising water 3-5 hours before arrival of the hurricane center. Flooding near the coast destroys smaller structures with larger structures damaged by battering of floating debris. Terrain continuously lower than 5 ft above mean sea level may be flooded inland 8 miles (13 km) or more. Evacuation of low-lying residences with several blocks of the shoreline may be required. Hurricanes Roxanne of 1995 and Fran of 1996 were Category Three hurricanes at landfall on the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico and in North Carolina, respectively.

Category Four Hurricane: Winds 131-155 mph (114-135 kt or 210-249 kph). Storm surge generally 13-18 ft above normal. More extensive curtainwall failures with some complete roof structure failures on small residences. Shrubs, trees, and all signs are blown down. Complete destruction of mobile homes. Extensive damage to doors and windows. Low-lying escape routes may be cut by rising water 3-5 hours before arrival of the hurricane center. Major damage to lower floors of structures near the shore. Terrain lower than 10 ft above sea level may be flooded requiring massive evacuation of residential areas as far inland as 6 miles (10 km). Hurricane Luis of 1995 was a Category Four hurricane while moving over the Leeward Islands. Hurricanes Felix and Opal of 1995 also reached Category Four status at peak intensity.

Category Five Hurricane: Winds greater than 155 mph (135 kt or 249 kph). Storm surge generally greater than 18 ft above normal. Complete roof failure on many residences and industrial buildings. Some complete building failures with small utility buildings blown over or away. All shrubs, trees, and signs blown down. Complete destruction of mobile homes. Severe and extensive window and door damage. Low-lying escape routes are cut by rising water 3-5 hours before arrival of the hurricane center. Major damage to lower floors of all structures located less than 15 ft above sea level and within 500 yards of the shoreline. Massive evacuation of residential areas on low ground within 5-10 miles (8-16 km) of the shoreline may be required. There were no Category Five hurricanes in 1995, 1996, or 1997. Hurricane Gilbert of 1988 was a Category Five hurricane at peak intensity and is the strongest Atlantic tropical cyclone of record.


Tornado/Severe Winds

Create a plan today to help your family be prepared when faced by strong winds from a tornado.

When a tornado is imminent-

  • Do not open windows.
  • If in a car, get out and seek shelter in a sturdy building.
  • If in an open area, lie face down in a ditch or low area and cover your head.
  • Prior to a tornado, concentrate on the following areas, along with the preceding hurricane preparation tips.

If roof covering is worn-

  • Strip off coverings to expose sheathing and make sure it is properly attached.
  • Remove bottom row of sheathing and install hurricane clips/straps as necessary.
  • Replace sheathing.
  • Apply double layer of felt paper underlayment or a single layer of adhesive-backed, rubberized, asphalt sheet waterproofing underlayment.
  • Install roof-covering shingles rated for hurricane force winds.

Check to see if the exterior walls are connected to the foundation properly.

  • Brace all gable end walls.
  • Ensure that the porch is properly attached.

Mobile Homes

  • Anchor down mobile homes.
Source: The Florida Alliance for Safe Homes.



You can help protect your property from wildfire damage with a little bit of work over the weekend.


  • Dry grass and dead leaves within at least 30 feet of home.
  • Branches within at least 10 feet of chimneys.


  • Lower branches within at least six feet of the ground.


  • Chimneys with a wire screen of 1/2-inch or smaller mesh.


  • Native, fire-resistant vegetation.
  • All trees and shrubs at least 10 feet apart.

Maintain an emergency water supply within 1,000 feet of your home through one of the following:

  • Community water/hydrant system.
  • Drafting site on a lake.
  • Cooperative emergency storage tank with neighbors.
  • Swimming pool.
Remember, only remove dead leaves or vegetation when local garbage collection services will have time to pick up the debris.

Source: The Florida Alliance for Safe Homes.



Lightning causes more deaths and destruction in a typical year than hurricanes and tornadoes combined.

Surge-Protective Devices (SPDs)-

  • Should protect your electronic and electrical appliances from all but the most severe electrical surges.
  • Should be installed at the electrical meter or main electrical panel and at each item to be protected.
  • Must also be installed at the electric service entrance to divert most of the surge energy to the ground. (Your local utility company or a qualified electrician can install the device at your electrical panel.)

Lightning Protection System-

  • Provides a direct path for lightning to follow to the ground.
  • Prevents destruction, damage, injury and death.
  • Should only be installed by a qualified contractor.

In case of lightning injuries-

  • Injured persons do not carry an electrical charge and can be handled safely.
  • Provide first aid to a lightning victim if you are qualified to do so.
  • Call 911 or send for help immediately.
Source: The Florida Alliance for Safe Homes.


What you should do if your home is damaged?

Take photos or videos of all building and content damage before any emergency repairs are done.

Protect your property to prevent further loss (tarp the roof, do temporary building repairs, move or remove trees, move property out of harm's way).

Preserve damaged property to prevent further damage and save it so the adjuster can see it.

Obtain a written estimate to repair the building damages.

Prepare a room by room list of damaged property showing quantities, ages and replacement prices.

Keep an accurate list of all additional living expenses.

Keep an accurate accounting of the supplies you purchase to do the emergency repairs.

Leave a forwarding address or phone number where your agent and adjuster can reach you.


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