Hurricanes Have Toes!

School is out and summertime is here! It’s time for family vacations, Bar-B-Qs and outdoor fun. Unfortunately, it’s also time to prepare for another Hurricane
The recent tornadoes in North Texas and Oklahoma (and reportedly right here in Maryland) as well as the flooding, remind us that storms are scary and unpredictable. The National Hurricane Center predicts an above average storm season this year – I know, don’t they always. But, the truth is it only takes one
storm to significantly impact your life. May 26th through June 1st was National Hurricane Preparedness Week. Did you prepare for “The Next Big Storm?”
History teaches us that a lack of hurricane awareness and preparation are common threads among all major hurricane disasters. Knowing your vulnerability and what actions you should take can reduce the effects of a hurricane disaster.
I had the opportunity to hear “Hurricane Expert” Dr. Steve Lyons speak about the importance of Hurricane Readiness. He explained the 5 Toes of the Hurricane Footprint and reminded us that an important and often overlooked danger from a storm is the flooding (Rain, Waves and Water Rise) it causes.
If you have been following Dr. Steve Lyon’s coverage of hurricanes on The
Weather Channel over the years you know he is big on painting a picture of what the coastal and inland impacts will be before they happen! He talks about 4 primary impact “toes” to the hurricane damage footprint.
A fifth “baby toe” completes the footprint and represents tornadoes (not so baby if you are struck by one). Dr. Lyons tells viewers that the category and hurricane wind speed is important, but it is poorly related to some of these “toes.” We need to pay close attention to more than what Category (1-5) the hurricane is offshore and what it is expected to be at landfall because 3 of the 5 toes of the footprint refer to flood, not wind.
Watch for information that forecasts each toe of the hurricane to get a better picture of the storm’s impact on you and your family. Note that he uses the term “WATER RISE” because “SURGE” is just one component of the total water rise of concern!
Take a look at these examples of recent hurricanes, their Saffir/Simpson category at landfall and the estimated WATER RISE toe. There is no obvious relationship between coastal water rise (flooding) and the Category on the scale.

Coastal Water Rise and Hurricane Category!
2008 Ike Cat 3 15-20 Feet2005 Katrina Cat 3 24-28 Feet2004 Ivan Cat 3 12-15 Feet2004 Charley Cat 4 6-8 Feet1992 Andrew Cat 5 14-17 Feet1995 Opal Cat 3 18-21 Feet

According to Dr. Lyons, “do not base your preparation actions or evacuation
decisions solely on the Saffir/ Simpson hurricane scale.” Many have been very surprised and caught off guard by doing so. Remember, there is no such thing as a single category number that can capture the four primary damage toes (wind, waves, water rise, rainfall) and the fifth baby toe (tornadoes) of the next hurricane footprint, because each toe is unrelated to the other toes! And since you can’t predict the future, let’s make sure you have all 5 Toes protected including flood
Please take just a few minutes to prepare. Would you like additional information? Drop me an email ( and I will send you our checklists for what to have on hand to prepare for a storm and information about flood insurance. Remember that we are here to answer your questions and help you protect your family’s assets.