Hurricane Season Is Right Around the Corner — and NOAA Says It's a Bad One

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is urging residents in hurricane-prone areas to prepare for an "above-average" season.
Three hurricanes over a map of the Caribbean Sea

Atlantic oceanside dwellers know that living in paradise comes with its costs. One of those is hurricane season, which, running from June 1 to November 30, is right around the corner. And unfortunately, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) — the authority on the topic of hurricane season — 2024's hurricane season is going to be a doozy.

Specifically, the organization predicts "an 85% chance of an above-normal season," with a forecasted range of between 17 and 25 named storms. (Naming, which is used to simplify forecasts, begins when a storm system reaches winds of 39 mph, moving from tropical depression to tropical storm; Category 1 hurricanes have winds of at least 74 mph.)

NOAA goes on to predict that between eight and 13 of those named storms will become hurricanes, and four to seven will become "major hurricanes," with winds of at least 111 mph (Category 3).

The development is (no) thanks to the convergence of several factors, including "near-record warm ocean temperatures in the Atlantic Ocean, development of La Nina conditions in the Pacific, reduced Atlantic trade winds and less wind shear," the organization said in its press release.

And for homeowners whose property lies in areas likely to show up in the National Hurricane Center's predicted "forecast cone" this year, it's not great news.

How to prepare for hurricane season

Using 30 years of data spanning from 1991 to 2020, NOAA estimates an "average" hurricane season to feature some 14 named storms and seven hurricanes, three of which develop to Category 3 or higher. Though Atlantic hurricane season starts in June, the first full-blown hurricane usually doesn't manifest until August, with the first major hurricane usually developing in late August or early September.

Homeowners who live within the path of such storms are told to prepare early — and fortunately, because hurricanes develop relatively slowly compared to disasters like tornadoes or earthquakes, such preparations can make a big difference in both saving lives and reducing property damage.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recommends those in hurricane-prone areas take steps like signing up for local alerts and preparing evacuation necessities well ahead of time. Homeowners can also protect their property by anchoring fuel tanks and other heavy objects, installing sewer backflow valves which can help prevent flood damage, boarding their windows with hurricane shutters (or installing hurricane-grade glass), and reviewing their homeowners insurance policies to ensure they have proper coverage.

It's also a good idea to stockpile emergency supplies like nonperishable food items and potable water, as well as to gather and keep all of your important documentation in one (ideally waterproof) place.

Still, hurricanes aren't entirely predictable, and their damages can be extremely costly. In 2005, Hurricane Katrina — the costliest storm on record — caused some $198.8 billion dollars in damages. Hurricane Harvey, which struck in 2017, comes in second at $158.8 billion in recorded damages, followed by Hurricane Ian at $117.4 billion.

Hurricanes and homeowners insurance

Aside from protecting their lives and those of their families, homeowners in the potential path of hurricanes this season may find themselves most worried about their homes — not only due to potential damages, but because of a lack of insurance coverage specific to hurricanes.

In recent years, prominent homeowners insurers have pulled out of disaster-prone areas including coastal Florida — or offered policies at outrageously inflated prices. (Even personal finance Suze Orman recently opted to self-insure after receiving a quote of $28,000 to insure her seaside South Florida condo.)

Even those who have successfully secured coverage should be on the lookout. While most homeowners insurance coverage includes a clause for wind damage, this coverage may be excluded if you live in a coastal area prone to hurricanes. And flooding, including storm surge flooding, is typically not covered; you may be able to purchase flood insurance separately, but it can be an expensive product. While the average cost of flood insurance in Florida hovers around $760 per year, the most risk-prone areas can see prices above $2,400.

Whether or not you live in a hurricane-prone area, chances are you've noticed an increase in homeowner insurance prices — and a decrease in included coverages. Homeowners have also been complaining about insurers utilizing drones and other surveillance tactics to secretly assess their properties — sometimes resulting in coverage drops that homeowners claim are unfair and erroneous. It pays to shop around ahead of time and compare the best homeowners insurance prices available in your area. And if you live in Florida (or other hurricane-prone areas), take the steps you can to secure your property — which is likely the most valuable asset in your portfolio, as well as your home.

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