The Dumbest Things People Say About Hurricanes

Well, hurricane season came early this year to Florida.  As I sit in my home office gathering information to see how close Elsa comes to Tampa Bay, I have a lot of images of past storms flash into my mind.   If it goes past on the Gulf side, Tampa Bay will get up to 4-feet of storm surge; fortunately, I live at 12-feet in the middle of the Interbay Peninsula.

Hurricanes remind long-time Floridians like me of all the dumb things you have been told about hurricanes.  Here are some of the dumbest statements I can remember.

“I don’t plan to leave my oceanside condo for I live on the twenty-second floor.”

I suggest you take a close look at photographs of condos after a huge hurricane. As many upper floor windows are gone as lower floors.  The winds are higher as you ascend. Your “vertical evacuation” is a bad strategy and I hope you don’t mind going without an elevator.

Count the broken windows – up and down.

“I don’t worry about storm surge for I don’t live near the ocean.”

Thanks to modern weather forecasting, while property damage on Florida islands can be huge, most people evaluate and are saved. But quite often there are more casualties from a hurricane due to flooding from rivers, lakes, and being in low-lying areas. 

People who live fifty miles from the ocean in Florida die from hurricanes!

“Hey, I’m a Florida snowbird and I’m not here in the summer months. Got my metal storm windows up at my house so I don’t fear hurricanes.”

Sounds great but police will tell you that it tells every burglar you are LONG GONE, and every fireman will tell you it is horrendous if your house ever caught fire.

“I always leave a window slightly open.”

This does not equalize air pressure and it can let in driving rain.  This is one of the world’s oldest unscientific statements. 

But does it not save your home from tornadoes?   Even this has been proven to be incorrect – studies have showed it not only doesn’t help, but tornadoes will sometimes use the opening to blow in and even explode your house upward in a draft.

“I like to go out into the eye of a storm and take great photographs and movies.”

This might seem logical, but it is really a good move only for the Weather Channel people.  As a teen, I went out with a friend in the eye of a hurricane in Brant Rock, Massachusetts.  It was wonderfully calm, until a TV antenna slide off a roof and hit my friend in the face.

“I have bought National Flood Insurance for years, so I do not worry about hurricanes.”

I bet every private home insurance guy carries around a bunch of brochures about NFI.  Know why?  It only covers $250,000 for your home and $100,000 for personal property.

Why I will never buy a houseboat.

“When the storm approaches, I always fill my tubs and sinks with water to drink.”

I am assuming you still have electricity to heat that water on the stove.  That is good for one cold bath or washing the dishes once.

“If a storm is getting near, I always tape up my windows.”

Another classic hurricane statement.  I wonder if people believe this turns their windows into automobile windshield shatterproof strength. A hurricane, however, can throw a tree at 90 m.p.h. into your window and only metal shutters and maybe 5/8 inch plywood would slow the missile.

Sealed tight but a burglar may still bite.

I have my mobile home tied down so I’m safe.”

If a house screwed down into the concrete foundation can be destroyed, your mobile home can not be safely grounded in a big hurricane.  You might as well use Gorilla Glue on your mobile.

HERE IS MY FAVORITE.  “I don’t live near the coast, so maybe I will see one hurricane every ten years.”

Look at this map and you will see that some homes in Polk County alongside US27 saw three hurricanes sweep across their yards in the SAME year!  On one side of the road, the trees are bent eastward, but on  the other side of the road, the trees are bent the other way.

Three hurricanes visit the same street from different directions in SAME year.

RESULT: I do not trust hurricanes whether you give them a male or female name.

About floridatraveler

Historian and travel writer M. C. Bob Leonard makes the Sunshine State his home base. Besides serving as content editor for several textbook publishers and as an Emeritus college professor, he moderates the FHIC at www.floridahistory.org
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