Homes and families in different parts of the country can be at risk for tornadoes, wildfires, hurricanes, floods, or severe winter weather such as blizzards and ice storms. It is important to be aware of the potential risks to your home and be prepared to protect your family in the event of a weather-related emergency.
Tornadoes are swiftly rotating columns of air spawned by violent atmospheric storms. Tornadoes are funnel-shaped and descend from a cloud to reach the ground, picking up dust and debris and causing destruction of anything in their path. Tornadoes happen throughout the world, but they are particularly common in an area known as Tornado Alley, which stretches from Texas across the Great Plains into South Dakota. Every year, around 1,200 tornadoes strike in the United States and about 60 people are killed, mostly due to flying or falling debris.
When an immense storm forms over water and makes its way to land, it is called a hurricane. Hurricanes bring with them storm surges, heavy rainfall, and powerful winds. They can lead to rip currents, floods, and tornadoes. Hurricanes occur in the United States and throughout the world, and they can go by different names depending on where they spawn: In the Atlantic Ocean and the northeast Pacific Ocean, they’re called hurricanes; in the northwest Pacific, they’re called typhoons; and in the south Pacific and Indian Ocean, they’re called cyclones. Hurricanes occur seasonally, with hurricane season lasting from mid-May or early June until the end of November. Few Americans die due to hurricanes thanks to improved forecasting and communication that can lead to more effective evacuations, though there have been some notable exceptions; for instance, 1,225 Americans died during 2005’s hurricane season, primarily victims of Hurricane Katrina.
A flood happens when land that is typically dry is inundated with water. A flood can involve water that is a few inches deep or many feet deep, and it can happen quickly, in what is called a flash flood, or happen over the course of hours or days. Floods can result from heavy rainfall, overflow due to a blocked waterway, melting snow, or a combination of these. Floods can happen virtually anywhere, but low-lying areas located near water are particularly at risk. Floods are the most common natural disaster to occur in the United States. Between 2005 and 2014, the total of insurance claims for flood damage averaged $3.5 billion per year. Around a hundred deaths per year are attributed to floods in the U.S., and many of these are vehicle-related drownings.
An unwanted, uncontrolled fire in a natural area is a wildfire. Wildfires occur in grasslands, prairies, and forests, and they can destroy homes and claim lives over a wide area. Embers from one fire can spark others, and the smoke can lead to breathing issues in those living or working near the fire area. Wildfires can occur at any time, but droughts increase the odds that a devastating fire will strike. Wildfires clear an average of 4 to 5 million acres each year in the United States.
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Source: Angies List