Tropical storms are a very powerful storm system, much like a hurricane. Although they are slightly less powerful than a hurricane, they can still cause tremendous amounts of damage. In the Southeastern U.S. alone, there has been more than $6 billion in damage in the storms that have hit since 1979.
In December of 2011, a tropical storm hit the Philippines killing more than 700 people.
What Is a Tropical Storm?
A tropical storm is a type of storm system that develops in tropical environments. These storms are characterized by extremely low pressure systems and high speed, swirling winds. In order for a storm to be classified as a “tropical storm”, a specific set of circumstances must exist. In order to be a tropical storm, the wind speed must be between 39 and 73 miles per hour. Lower or higher wind speeds would be another classification (lower: tropical depression, higher: hurricane).
Some of the more common areas where a tropical storm can occur include the Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian Oceans, the South Pacific, near Australia, and the Arabian Sea.
Common Types of Tropical Storm Damage
The two primary causes of damage during a tropical storm are wind and water.
- Wind Damage – high winds, flying debris, etc.
- Water Damage – heavy rain, storm surges, large waves and swells, mud slides
Wind Damage and Flying Debris
One of the primary characteristics of a tropical storm is high winds. Below are the main types of damage you could expect if you are in an area hit by a tropical storm.
- Roof Damage: High speed winds can dislodge shingles and other roofing materials without impact from outside forces. Also, wind storms often knock down trees and limbs while sending dangerous, flying debris over long distances. If any debris impacts a residential or commercial property, it can cause extensive damage to the roof and other parts of the structure. Gutter damage is common from both debris impact and from buildup of airborne debris in the gutters.
- Window and Siding Damage: Flying debris can and does cause significant damage to the sides of houses and buildings. For example, tree branches striking a window at 30 miles per hour will almost certainly break the window. Siding is susceptible to this same type of damage. Learn more about window damage and siding damage.
- AC / HVAC Damage: External heating and cooling units are at risk from flying debris and falling trees or branches.
- Property Damage: Expect to have a large amount of debris to clean up on your property after severe wind storms.
- Automobile Damage: Automobile damage is very common during wind storms. Broken windows, dents, scratches and paint damage occur often. If you can, park automobiles in a garage or cover them with a car cover for some level of protection against the elements.
Water Damage Including Heavy Rain, Storm Surges and Mud Slides
The other primary cause of damage in a tropical storm is water. Below are the main types of damage you could expect if you are in an area hit by a tropical storm.
- Flooding – Floods can cause all kinds of serious damage including flooded basements, ruined furniture, damage to your home’s exterior and landscaping, and much more. Learn more about flood damage.
- Mold – The moisture caused by heavy rains and flooding can create a breeding ground for mold. Mold can be hazardous to your health and your home and should be protected against.
- Interior Damage – When your house floods, often times, the flooding can cause significant damage to interior walls, carpeting, flooring, and furniture.
- Sewage Backup – Heavy rains and flooding can also cause sewage backup in your home. During heavy rains, storm water can enter sanitary sewers and cause backups into a house or connected houses through overloading of the main lines.
Tropical Storm Safety and Preparation
Here are some tips to help you prepare for Tropical storms and other cyclones such as Hurricanes:
- Have supplies on-hand to board and barricade your home / office
- Have fresh drinking water readily available and stored somewhere safe
- Have battery operated TV or Radio and extra batteries
- Keep food stored that does not need to be cooked or refrigerated
- Evacuate coastal areas or areas facing severe weather
- Make sure your insurance policy protects you as much as possible from Tropical Storms and Hurricanes
- Make sure gas tanks are full
- Have extra cash handy
- Make sure you are aware of flood dangers
And just to be safe, here are some tips to help you prepare for flooding:
- Clean gutters regularly, keep them free of leaves and other debris.
- Check storm drains near your home or business and remove any debris, including leaves, plastic bags and trash bags.
- If needed, use a screwdriver to remove storm drain covers. Use your hands or a small garden trowel to remove any debris blocking the drain.
- After removing debris, scrub the inside of the drain with cleanser and a brush. This will ensure incoming water can drain as quickly as possible.
- Make sure outdoor drains, including window wells and basement stairwells are clean and functional.
Tropical Storm Damage Restoration Information
Tropical storms can be wildly destructive, especially in areas directly hit by the full force of the storm. Below are some links that will help you during the process of tropical storm damage restoration and repair:
Hiring the Right Storm Damage Contractor
Storm Damage Insurance FAQ’s
Avoiding Contractor Scams
Identifying Hail Damage