Storm Damage & Destruction: We know all about it in the insurance industry
At Waxhaw Insurance Agency, we love The Weather Channel. Being in the insurance industry, we are always aware of storm damage and destruction. The Weather Channel’s live coverage of local and national weather news comes in handy to those who like to follow the latest weather reporting.
There is so much information to be shared on The Weather Channel website and the Weather Channel mobile app you can download onto your smart phone from breaking news and tips on how to prepare for, and avoid the dangers during, severe weather episodes. Recently we came across an article on the website about the dangers of thunderstorms. It made us think — tornado warnings get all the attention, but sometimes thunderstorms can be very severe and dangerous, and people do not seem to be as alarmed by the warning of a bad storm, which can produce lightening, flooding rains, damaging hail, and severe winds. There are potentially more damaging and even deadly ingredients to a thunderstorm than there are to a tornado which is more isolated and less likely to occur around where we live. This article is not intended to downplay the power of a tornado my any means. The point is that a terrible storm is likely to catch people off guard and create a real mess or dangerous situation. We found this list of damaging elements often brought forth by a bad storm in an informative article on The Weather Channel’s website.
1) Destructive Winds
Straight line winds associated with storms, not tornados, can be extremely damaging – strong enough to down trees, large limbs,and knock out power. We know this all to well after enduring a series of weather systems that took out power for many people around Union County and the Charlotte area a few weeks ago. If you have large trees around your home, it is not a bad idea to seek shelter on the lowest level of your home when a bad storm comes through. If you have a basement, go there during incidents of high winds. Sometimes in late spring or summer, thunderstorms may form a long-lived, fast-moving complex of high winds known as a derecho. These are capable of widespread tree damage and power outages, as well as some structural damage from wind gusts that can top 100 mph in the extreme, the equivalent of an EF1 tornado. If you hear the word “derecho” mentioned in any forecast, or see “wind gusts over 70-75 mph” noted in a severe thunderstorm warning, take shelter immediately as you would for a tornado warning.
At Waxhaw Insurance Agency, we suggest having the large trees around your home checked, trimmed and pruned by an arborist.
2) Destructive Hail
We see this all the time – hail damage on people’s homes and cars. You or your neighbor might have filed a claim for this type of damage at some point. A large percentage of hail storms produce golf ball sized hail and this is typically seen in the spring and summer months. 1-inch diameter hail, roughly the diameter of a quarter, can damage roof shingles. Golf ball size hail, roughly 1.75 inches in diameter, can put dents in your vehicle. Damage quickly becomes more serious with more rare baseball-size (smashes vehicle windshields) and softball-size (punches holes in roofs) hail. Add thunderstorm winds driving the hail, and your home’s exterior could be a total loss, with its siding destroyed, numerous holes in your roof, even windows smashed.
While exceedingly rare, deaths from large hail have occurred when people outdoors were directly hit by hail falling from the sky. This sounds rare and extreme – still, take heed and take shelter. Remember, f a severe thunderstorm warning for your area mentions the threat of large hail, move your vehicle(s) into a garage, parking deck or some covered area if you can. Do not, however, park under or over a highway overpass. If many try to do the same thing, the highway may become blocked. Furthermore, a highway overpass is a terrible place to be stuck if a tornado hits. If you are on the highway when a bad storm hits, just pull over, in the lowest spot possible.
3) Tornadoes Can Form During a Regular Storm
Occasionally you’ll see the following wording in National Weather Service severe thunderstorm warnings:
“Severe thunderstorms can and sometimes do produce tornadoes with little or no advance warning.”
According to the Weather Channel, this wording may be in severe thunderstorm warnings when a tornado watch is already in effect, yet the severe thunderstorm does not yet show sufficiently strong rotation on Doppler radar or via storm spotter reports. Therefore, the NWS meteorologist may first issue a severe thunderstorm warning for a developing supercell based on the threat of large hail and perhaps damaging straight-line winds. However, in the span of minutes, the intensifying thunderstorm may quickly develop low-level rotation that, under the right conditions, could lead to a tornado. Sometimes brief tornadoes form quickly on the leading edge of a long line of severe thunderstorms with otherwise damaging straight-line winds. These typically brief tornadoes may occur during the night, or may be wrapped in rain and hard to see. In general, if an NWS severe thunderstorm warning mentions the wording above, you would be wise to seek shelter as if it was a tornado warning, based on this potential for a tornado to quickly develop.
Photo from Weather Channel Article
Lightning strikes over Melbourne Park during a first round doubles match on January 16, 2014 in Melbourne, Australia.(Robert Prezioso/Getty Images)
Lightening is a big threat around our area. While any ordinary mid-summer thunderstorm can produce lightning, severe thunderstorms can produce more frequent cloud-to-ground lightning. Thousands of cloud-to-ground lightning strikes can occur in the thunderstorm cluster over one hour’s time, or less. Lightning strikes can persist for a half-hour or slightly longer after the main line of thunderstorms with the highest wind gusts passes.
(About lightening strikes – MORE: Lightning’s Damaging Power)
The Weather Channel recommends avoiding contact with electrical devices, corded phones, metal pipes, etc. while taking shelter indoors during a severe thunderstorm. Stay inside for at least 30 minutes after hearing the last clap of thunder.
At Waxhaw Insurance Agency, we’re so glad spring is almost here! We hope you’re gearing up for a fun time this spring season. We warn you to stay alert and aware of potential destruction and unsafe conditions that can occur when a bad thunderstorm strikes. Use precaution and take note of the conditions we listed above, which can be as serious as an actual tornado, damaging your home and possibly harming people who are not in the right place when a storm hits. Anything you can do to avoid a claim will, in the long run, save you money. We’re here to offer tips on keeping yourself safe, and keeping your home and car insured so they can be replaced or restored if storm damage strikes your property.