As an insurance company that serves catastrophe-prone states like Florida and Louisiana, we've seen the power of hurricanes firsthand and have helped our homeowners navigate their aftermath. (Just look at our response to Hurricane Irma in 2017 for a snapshot!)
So we wanted to share some of our historical hurricane knowledge with you. If these hurricane facts aren't enough to inspire you to prepare for the next big storm, we're not sure what will!
1. The 2020 Atlantic Hurricane Season Saw 30 Named Storms
The 2005 season had more hurricanes (15), but 2020 was the most active year on record, with 30 named storms, 14 of which were hurricanes. And of those 14, seven of them were major hurricanes.
It's further proof that climate change is making active hurricane seasons the new normal.
2. Hurricanes Can Unleash More Than 2.4 Trillion Gallons of Rain Per Day
While hurricane winds that can top 160 mph get most of the headlines, the deluge they bring can be just as damaging. Just take 2017’s Hurricane Harvey as an example. When all was said and done, Harvey dumped 33 trillion gallons of water on the US – enough to fill a 3.1 square mile cube.
3. Florida Gets More Hurricanes Than Any Other State
Between 1885 and 2020, Floridians have suffered 120 direct hits, which is about 40 percent of the hurricanes to make landfall in the United States during the same period. The Sunshine State has also seen half of the country’s Category 5 storms (2) and 42 percent of the Category 4 storms (11).
4. The Longest Hurricane Lasted 31 Days
Not only did Hurricane John, a Category 5 storm, last from July 25 to September 13, 1994, but it also traveled 7,165 miles between the eastern and western Pacific Ocean. This makes it both the farthest-traveled hurricane and one of a handful that has also been classified as a typhoon.
5. Hurricane Allen Reached Maximum Sustained Winds of 190 MPH
This speed gives Hurricane Allen the record for most intense hurricane in the Atlantic if you measure it by maximum sustained winds. Its formation on July 31, 1980, also made it the earliest Category 5 hurricane until 2005, when Hurricane Emily roared to life on July 11.
6. “Hurricane” Comes from the Taino Word “Huraca’n”
The Taino, the indigenous people of the Caribbean, believed the god Juracan caused huraca’n through the handiwork of an angry goddess named Guabancex and her companions Guatabá and Coatrisquie. Guabancex brought the wind, Guatabá was responsible for the lightning and thunder, and Coatrisquie caused the floods.
7. Hurricanes Were Originally Only Named After Women
In the US, the National Hurricane Center first started naming hurricanes in 1953, but only used female names. Prior to this, hurricanes were designated by Catholic saint days, the places where they made landfall, and sometimes even the property they destroyed.
8. Bob Was the First Male Name for a Hurricane
The practice of only using female names was dropped in 1978, thanks in part to civil rights activist and Florida feminist Roxcy Bolton. She persuaded the national weather forecasters to include male names for tropical storms, arguing that associating just women with disasters was regressive.
9. The Names of the Most Devastating Hurricanes Are Retired
The World Meteorological Organization, which now maintains and rotates through six lists of hurricane names for the Atlantic, has retired 93 names for the destruction they caused. The 2005 season saw the most names retired – five total, including Katrina and Rita. Laura, Eta, and Iota were all retired after 2020.
10. Opening Windows in a Hurricane Does Not Protect Your Home
Many people think they need to keep their windows open during hurricanes, believing it equalizes pressure in the house, but that's a myth, and a bad one. Open windows may actually allow debris and water that can cause serious damage.
Instead, make sure your windows are boarded up with plywood or hurricane-protection shutters and close your interior doors. Leaving those open compartmentalizes pressure so wind that does get in doesn’t cause your roof to blow off, according to a press release from the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety.
11. A Hurricane’s Eyewall Presents the Greatest Danger
The eyewall is the spiraling bands of wind and rain that radiate from the center of a hurricane that gives these storms their distinctive buzzsaw shape. And just like in humans, you can tell a lot about hurricanes by their eyes.
A ragged, asymmetrical eye means the storm is struggling to strengthen, while a smooth, round eye means that it’s stable and quite strong. On the other hand, a tiny eye –known as a pinhole or pinpoint eye – is a sign of a very intense storm.
12. Some Hurricanes Have Two Eyewalls
This process is known as an “eyewall replacement cycle,” which is where a storm develops a new eyewall to replace the old one. An eyewall replacement cycle usually lessens the intensity of the hurricane, but it also spreads out the eye so the hurricane doesn’t have to get as close to land to cause damage, as seen in Hurricane Matthew in October 2016.
13. Hurricanes Spin in Different Directions
How a hurricane spins depends on which hemisphere it’s from. Hurricanes in the Southern Hemisphere spin in a clockwise direction whereas hurricanes in the Northern Hemisphere turn counterclockwise.
14. A Hurricane Saved Japan from Attack
When the Mongols attempted an invasion of Japan in 1281, their attack was halted thanks to a hurricane – technically a typhoon because of its location.
15. Hurricanes Often Cause Tornadoes
The tornadoes that come with hurricanes are usually weaker and last a shorter time than the hurricane-free variety, but they can still do some damage. This is especially true when hurricanes cause multiple tornadoes, like Hurricane Ivan did in 2004. It holds the record for most tornadoes spawned with 120.
Hurricane insurance is the part of your home insurance policy that can cover repairs to the home and other structures caused by hurricane winds. To learn more about how the coverage works, give us a call and one of our representatives will be happy to walk you through it.