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    2020 Was a Record-Breaking Year for Hurricanes. What’s in Store for 2021?

    Last year, we experienced the most active Atlantic hurricane season since meteorologists began keeping records in 1851. The season extends from June 1 to November 30, and by September 18 of 2020, we had already exhausted the typical alphabetical list of 21 named storms. This prompted the World Meteorological Organization to extend the naming system to use characters from the Greek alphabet, beginning with Alpha in September and ending with Hurricane Iota on November 18.

    By the time the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season came to a close, there were a total of 30 named storms, including 13 hurricanes, 15 tropical storms, and two subtropical storms. Of the 13 hurricanes, six made landfall and resulted in severe flooding and storm damage in Louisiana, Texas, and other states along the Gulf Coast. Louisiana, in particular, was pummeled by three successive hurricanes in only two months, including Hurricane Laura, which hit Lake Charles on August 27 and resulted in at least 77 fatalities in the area.

    Consider the following data from The Farmer’s Almanac, which compares the median observed storm activity for hurricane seasons occurring from 1981-2010 to the total observed storm activity for the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season:

     

    Observed Storm Activity, 2020

    Median Observed Storm Activity, 1981-2010

    Named Storms

    30

    12.1

    Named Storm Days

    118

    59.4

    Hurricanes

    13

    6.4

    Hurricane Days

    34.75

    24.3

    Major Hurricanes

    6

    2.7

    Major Hurricane Days

    8.75

    6.2

    Net Tropical Cyclone Activity

    225%

    116%

     

    In all, last year’s record-breaking hurricane season resulted in nearly $47 billion in aggregate damages, making 2020 the seventh costliest hurricane season in history. It’s worth noting that nine out of ten of the costliest hurricane seasons have occurred since 2004, and 2020 marked the fifth consecutive year for above-average storm activity.

    So, what’s in store for the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season? In this blog post, we’ll discuss what experts are predicting for this year (hint—it’s another big one), and give you tips for making sure your home and loved ones are prepared to weather the coming storms.

    Insure your home and possessions against the most common disaster in the country. Click here to get a flood insurance quote today.

    Experts Predict Another Above-Average Atlantic Hurricane Season in 2021

    Colorado State University hurricane researchers are predicting an above-average Atlantic hurricane season in 2021, citing the likely absence of El Niño as a primary factor. Subtropical Atlantic sea surface temperatures are much warmer than their long-term average values, which also favors an active 2021 Atlantic hurricane season.

    CSU’s initial forecast predicts a total of 17 named storms for 2021, of which eight could become hurricanes. Of the hurricanes that are expected to occur, four could turn into major hurricanes, which are storms reaching at least Category 3 strength in the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale.

    Why Do Hurricanes Cause So Much Damage?

    Tropical storms and hurricanes are characterized by high winds and heavy rain. When a hurricane hits land, it actually slows down as it travels and dumps huge amounts of rain on coastal communities before dying out. A hurricane can last for over two weeks and wreak havoc along the entire length of the eastern seaboard before it’s over.

    According to WeatherStem, property damage from hurricanes and tropical storms typically result from one of the following:

    Wind—The strength of a hurricane (ranging from Category 1-5) is determined by its strongest force of wind. Hurricanes can have winds of over 150 miles per hour, which is enough to rip trees out of the ground, tear roofs completely off, and send debris flying for miles.

    Storm Surge—Strong winds during a hurricane can push water up from the ocean and onto land. This water can cause major flooding and damage to homes, commercial businesses, cars, and other property. Perhaps the most vivid example of this occurred when Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in 2005.

    Heavy Rain—Hurricanes can cause heavy rain that often lasts for multiple days, causing major inland flooding. Hurricanes often result in over 20 inches of rain. In 2017, Hurricane Harvey dropped a whopping 60.5 inches on the Texas coast.

    Help Protect Your Home and Family This Hurricane Season with Flood Insurance

    A hurricane or other natural disaster can cause loss of life or property damage and typically leaves some economic damage in its wake—having a plan in place can reduce the amount of suffrage and bring resilience to unforeseeable events.

    Floods, particularly those associated with hurricanes and tropical storms, are the most common natural disaster in the country. According to FEMA, a mere inch of floodwater in your home can result in over $25,000 in property damage! Despite this, homeowners insurance does not cover damages caused by flooding.

    Mortgage lenders now require those home and business owners with properties located in a high-risk flood zone to purchase and maintain additional flood insurance on their home loans. Unfortunately, 25% of homes that incur flood damage annually are located outside of the high-risk flood zone. Of the houses and businesses affected by Hurricane Harvey in 2017, 80% were located outside of the 100-year flood plain. The vast majority of these property owners did not have flood insurance.

    If flooding caused by a hurricane or tropical storm is a concern to you and your family—particularly if the price to rebuild your home exceeds the standard policy limit of $250,000—then excess flood insurance may be coverage to consider. If you live outside of a high-risk flood zone, it’s still a good idea to obtain standard flood insurance coverage to protect your home in the worst-case scenario. 

    With another above-average hurricane season predicted for 2021, everyone is, unfortunately, at increased risk of finding themselves, their family, and their friends without a home, food, water, and other necessities needed to survive after a hurricane or other natural disaster. We cannot always predict the weather, so it is recommended that you prepare your home and family ahead of time.

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    Tyreo Harrison

    As Executive Vice President, Lending & Insurance Solutions, Ty Harrison leads teams of lending and insurance professionals that are dedicated to delivering value-added programs, services and technology tailored to address the needs of lenders, loan servicers, portfolio managers, mortgage brokers, insurance agents and insurance brokers.

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