Storm Season: EF 1 Tornado Touches Down in San Marco

tornado_and_lightningStorm season is upon us, and the recent tornado that touched down in San Marco and Southside is a reminder to be prepared for the upcoming tropical storms and bad weather.

The tornado that touched down on April 25, 2015 left a 300-yard wide wake of destruction for 3.5 miles from San Marco to Englewood High. The National Weather Service (NWS) categorized the severity of the tornado as moderate. The NWS uses the Enhanced Fujita (EF) scale to determine the strength of tornadoes in the United States and Canada. The EF scale is based on the damage caused, and from EF 0, the least severe, to EF 5.

The San Marco tornado was rated an EF 1. The low rating can be deceptive. Winds associated with the storm were up to 104 mph in the path of destruction, with 70-80 mph winds outside the path of the storm. High winds caused lots of damage, uprooting trees and snapping power lines. About 18,000 Jacksonville residents lost power.  Even though this tornado was luckily not that severe, many residents are faced with extensive repairs and clean up.

Mother Nature Can Be Very Unpredictable

Predicting the severity of storms is not always possible. The National Weather Service had no time to issue a tornado warning on April 25. While there was a severe thunderstorm warning in effect, the tornado developed so quickly that there was no time to warn residents.

Severe thunderstorms always carry a risk of tornadoes, and it is important to be alert and aware of any storms developing in the area. In addition to potential tornadoes, other serious developments can occur.

  • Flash flooding is a risk, especially in saturated areas or low-lying places.

  • High winds can cause damage from blowing debris, and can loosen and break tree limbs.

  • Limited visibility can cause drivers to be unable to see other drivers or obstacles in the road.

  • Hail can develop quickly, damaging property and causing injury.

The “H” Word

Thunderstorms are not the only severe weather to be on the watch for. We know that hurricanes, even offshore, can cause flooding, high winds, and dangerous conditions. Some of the most devastating storms in history have been hurricanes.

Colorado State University recently released a report saying that the 2015 Atlantic hurricane season may be one of the least severe in many years. It is important to remember, however, that this report is an overview of all hurricanes in the Atlantic, whether they reach landfall or not. Fewer hurricanes does not necessarily mean less destruction. In 2014 there were only 8 tropical storms and hurricanes, but three of them made landfall and caused extensive damage. In 2010 there were 19 storms, and only one tropical storm reached land. The number of storms predicted has no real bearing on projected insurance premium increases, since it can’t be known for sure which storms will reach land and which will do no damage out at sea.

June, July and August are heavy storm months, but September is normally the peak time for hurricanes. The list of hurricane names has been released for 2015, beginning with “Ana” (has Ana been already named) and working through the alphabet to “Wanda.” Tropical Storm Ana, which made landfall in May as a tropical storm off Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, is the second earliest land-falling tropical storm on record in the Atlantic.

Don’t Panic – Prepare

Unpredictable weather incidents and the extensive damage they can cause, not to mention injuries and possible fatalities, can leave you feeling insecure and unsafe. It’s important to prepare for an emergency.

  • Prepare Your People

    • Keep a supply of water and food to last for 72 hours. Have an emergency first aid kit available as well.

    • Make a communication plan with your family, and make sure all family members have emergency contact information for you either on their cell phones or in their wallet.

  • Prepare Your Property

    • Your roof is vulnerable. Before you need a qualified roofing contractor, find a trusted professional and have the number on hand.

    • Get a check-up on your insurance policy. Know what is covered, and whether additional coverage can give you peace of mind.

    • Schedule periodic roof inspections as part of regular home maintenance. Your roof should be evaluated every three years, according to the National Association of Home Builders. Choose a roofer that is reputable, experienced, and local. A roofer that shares your community with you is as concerned about protecting your home and family as you are, and will not suggest repairs that aren’t necessary.

    • Trees, pests, and weather can make your gutters, downspouts, and roof more vulnerable. A good roof inspector will give you an overall look of the health of your home.

When assessing damage and going through the repair process on your home, be sure to choose a contractor that provides a very detailed estimate that includes scope of work, debris removal, labor, etc. in your quote. There are many things to consider when determining the extent of the damage to your home. Check out some valuable tips to help you through the process.

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