2016 Hurricane Preparedness
Hurricane season is upon is, and if you own a boat now is the time to start preparing for the unthinkable. The 2016 Atlantic hurricane season is expected to be the most active since 2012, with 14 named storms, 8 hurricanes, and 3 storms that are expected to be category 3 or higher. Remember that it doesn’t take a direct hit from a severe hurricane to send powerful winds and storm surge in our direction- you can experience serious damage even if the storm doesn’t pass as close as once predicted.
A classic example of why it is important to pre-prepare happened in 1992, a year when there were only six named storms and one subtropical storm; however, one of those named storms was Hurricane Andrew, a category 5 hurricane that devastated all of South Florida. According to the National Weather Service, we are currently in a 10-year record low for the number of storms, dating all the way back to 1850.
The bottom line: South Florida is due for another hurricane strike sooner rather than later, but it’s impossible to know if that will occur this season.
There are many dangerous conditions that need to be considered when preparing for a hurricane:
- Surge: Surge accounts for major damage to boats because it puts docks and dockline arrangements underwater as the boat tries to float above. Surge is responsible for extensive flooding and must of the loss of line that accompanies a hurricane.
- Wind: A hurricane, of course, brings high winds- gusts of over 200mph have been recorded! When wind speed doubles, the wind pressure quadruples, so it is important to reduce the boat’s windage (or the amount of area your boat presents to the wind).
- Waves: Even in relatively small harbors and bays, waves can build to surprising heights. In a hurricane, it is not unusual for steep, breaking waves 3’-6’ high to pound normally peaceful marinas. Seawalls, barrier beaches, and other structures that normally protect docks and moorings are often submerged by the storm surge.
- Rainfall: rainfall of 6”-12” in 24 hours is normal during a hurricane, and extremes of up to 2’ of rain have been recorded. In Puerto Rico in 1928, a hurricane is estimated to have dumper two-and-a-half billion tons of water on the island. Boats that are spared the worst high water and wind still can be sunk by the torrential rain, because deck drains and pump discharges located near the waterline can backflow when waves and rain put drains underwater.
- Tornadoes: Tornadoes are sometimes spawned by hurricanes- of the 46 people who died during Hurricane Carla in 1961, 11 of them were killed by tornados. The possibility of a twister is a strong reason for you, your family, and your boat to be safe.
So, when should you take action? A hurricane “warning” is posted when sustained winds of 74-mph or higher are expected within 24 hours or less- at that point, it may be too late! The best advice is to finalize your plans ahead of time, so that your vessel can be transported to a secure location during a hurricane “watch,” which is posted when hurricane conditions pose a threat to a specified coastal area, usually within 36 hours. If you wait any longer, bridges may be locked down and available the boatyards may be full. In other words, now is the time to create your hurricane preparedness plan!
If you own a boat that is too large to trailer, you have three options: secure the boat at a dock, moor the boat in a hurricane hole, or have the boat hauled out and placed in storage which is likely your best bet.
We here at Turn-A-Key Marine are committed to stress-free boat ownership, and are happy to offer our clients the peace-of-mind of secured storage on the mainland, away from the tumultuous waters of the ocean and the bay. We offer reasonable prices at an insured location, so you will not need to worry about several of the factors listed above. Our team of coastal natives and maritime professionals is prepared to ensure the safety of your vessel as best as possible, and we look forward to speaking with you about protecting your vessel today!