Friday, December 02, 2005

Hurricane Alley

Well the 2005 hurricane season has finally come and gone. Living here in South Florida we are beginning to see how people in the midwest feel who live in tornado alley. In the past two hurricane seasons my home here in broward county has been hit by a total of five hurricanes. Luckily they did little damage, with exception of Wilma. I must say however that building code improvements made riding out wilma much less stressful than huricane Andrew back in '92. Although Wilma was in no way comparable to Andrew, it was far more powerful than any other storm which had affected us in our new house here in broward county. I must admit i am kinda envious of storm chasers as even i found myself wanting to see the full power of wilma up close and personal. To those who choose to go outside in hurricanes, do so with the knowledge and expectation that flying debris can and will injure you when it hits you at 100 mph. Always be aware of the wind direction and keep an immovable object like a wall, between you and the wind. One thing i noticed while observing wilma as they eye past was that the winds were not even close to uniform. The winds came in channels usually about 100 feet wide with surrounding wind speeds significantly lower. I literally watched winds batter the house across the street while barely bothering the houses on either side of it, then abruptly change to one of the other houses leaving my neighbors with lessor winds.
In Andrew, back in '92, the winds never did that. They maintained even pressure on everything in sight and grew in intensity every few minutes in gust like fasion without any lulls or retreat. In a cat five hurricane the force of the wind load is unprecedented. In all hurricanes the force on a structure is calculated as the square of the wind speed so a cat 5 is exponentially stronger than a 4 which is exponentially stronger than a 3 and so on.
The best advice to all of us who live in areas at risk of hurricanes is to get out of their way if they are going to hit you as a major 3,4 or 5, because if a 2 can do the damage it did here, the building code improvements will not protect you from a 5 any better than the codes did back in 92.

A few tips for homeowners in the event of a hurricane.

Barrel tile roofs can not and will not stay on in 140+ mph winds, so don't find yourself at the wrong end of a bazooka.

Don't wait for a wet ceiling to fall on your head, use a broom handle to poke a hole and let the water out before it sags too much and falls(It will have to be replaced anyway if the insulation is all wet.

Don't park your car where a tree can fall on it, try to park it out of the wind.

If you study the storms path you can get an idea of how the winds are going to be at your house. ie: If the storm is moving east to west and your home is either in the path of the eyewall or to the north of it, winds will come from the N,NE,ENE,E,ESE and finally SE as the storm passes to your south. This will allow you to strategically park cars, boats etc out of the most severe winds as the eye passes mainly the ENE - ESE winds which will be during the peak of the storm.
If the storm is going north of you the winds will be from the opposite direction, namely NW,WNW,W,WSW,SW with the peak winds coming in the WNW - WSW directions. All this reverses if as wilma did , the storm approaches from the west, where the south side of the storm, usually the weak side is now the strong side.

Don Quina
http://www.us-boating.net

18 Comments:

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