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7/23/2014 - Determining Factors in a Hurricane Evacuation

Americans may not have a very clear idea of what leads to a mandatory evacuation.

One of the determinants weather trackers use to determine whether a hurricane is major is wind speed. This may explain why a large portion of Americans base their decision on whether to evacuate their property on heavy gusts, which is a mistake for those who do so, according to a new study performed by the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes.

After commissioning Harris Interactive to perform a poll, FLASH found that a majority of men and women - 84% - abandoned their property depending on how much wind accompanied said storm. In reality, hurricane evacuation boundaries are determined by water, not wind.

Rick Knabb, Ph.D. and director of the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration's National Hurricane Center indicated that there are a lot of myths out there about hurricanes that are widely believed. It's no surprise, though, given the attention they get.

"Most people think of wind with a hurricane, but in recent years, water from storm surge and inland flooding has done the most damage and killed the most people," said Knabb. "Families need to find out if they live in an evacuation zone today, have a plan in place and immediately follow evacuation orders when issued."

'Minor' hurricane often anything but
Even storms that aren't classified as major - in other words, those that are Category 2 or below - have caused numerous homeowners insurance claims. FLASH noted that in 2008, for example, Category 2 storm Hurricane Ike, resulted in storm surge levels of 15 to 20 feet. And two years ago, Tropical Storm Debby slammed the Florida panhandle, with surge heights of 7 feet.

Last year was notable for being one of the more inactive periods for hurricane activity ever. It could be more of the same during the 2014 hurricane season, which lasts from June to the end of November, according to researchers from Colorado State University. They forecast that there will be four named storms in the five-month stretch and a 35% chance of the Atlantic coast being hit with one major storm. In the past 100 years, the average has been 52%.

To update your property insurance policy, speak to an independent Selective agent who is near you.

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