Each year, hurricane season threatens Texas and other coastal states with colossal storms that often bring insurmountable damage. While Hurricane Laura was the latest storm to cause mass destruction to coastal Louisiana, it likely won’t be the last, as we are now entering peak hurricane season. While this brings concerns for many living in coastal areas such as Houston, it’s important that commercial property owners in particular know what to expect and how to protect themselves during peak hurricane season.
What is Peak Hurricane Season?
Hurricane season runs from early June through the end of November, with its peak between late August and October. While we’ve just recently entered peak hurricane season, the peak occurs in late summer or early fall because of both wind and water conditions.
Wind shear refers to variations in the wind’s speed or direction over a short distance within the atmosphere. A strong spring wind shear fades through June and July; and, by late August the wind shear reaches a minimum. Because wind shear can prevent weather systems from organizing, with less shear, the chances of a storm forming becomes much more likely. In addition, the temperature of the ocean in the deep tropics rises as summer progresses. Summer brings sunnier days, warmer air temperatures, and more moisture in the atmosphere; but, at the same time, warmer ocean temperatures drive greater storm activity, thus, allowing hurricane season to enter its peak near the end of summer.
What Commercial Property Owners Can Expect
For commercial property owners, hurricane season is stressful enough. However, combining a particularly active storm season that is now at its peak can be insurmountably daunting for business owners. National Weather Forecaster, Isha Renta told The Houston Chronicle that there’s a possible La Niña developing in the next couple of months. These conditions occur when the surface water in the equatorial regions of the eastern Pacific Ocean become cooler than normal. While La Niña can enhance hurricane activity in the Atlantic, the opposite condition – El Niño – helps suppress hurricane activity. There are also warmer than normal surface temperatures in the tropical Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea, which act as fuel for hurricanes. Additionally, the West African monsoon season is above average, driving stronger tropical waves from Africa into the Caribbean.
Storm season anticipation has been greatly heightened by the significant destruction caused by Hurricane Laura just a few weeks ago; therefore, it’s important for commercial property owners to be prepared for the worst possible outcome in order to protect their businesses and livelihoods.
Protecting Commercial Property
Because a major hurricane can have an immediate impact on businesses and the overall economy, it is imperative that companies can get back up and running as soon as possible in order to recoup lost income. Some of the ways commercial property owners can work to protect operations in case of a hurricane include:
Preparing commercial buildings, warehouses, and shopping centers for storms is a major process that should be undertaken each year in hurricane-prone areas. Planning should begin at the beginning of the year or several months before the threat of a hurricane is present. A few items to consider when planning ahead include:
Creating a written hurricane plan on what to purchase in order to protect the property. This could include materials for boarding up windows, chains to hold down any outdoor furniture, or ensuring there is enough space indoors to house outside items. Additionally, there should be plenty of water available, as well as a generator in case of an extended loss of power.
Specifying the conditions that must be met for the hurricane plan to be implemented. This could be triggered when a storm is estimated to make landfall.
Planning how to protect, back up, and store important computer files and equipment.
Reviewing evacuation and emergency response procedures so everyone knows what to expect should an emergency occur.
Protecting Business Property
The exterior of commercial properties should be regularly maintained year-round. Maintaining the trees, roofing, and gutters on the property can help ensure the property can withstand a storm’s effects. Because loose items can quickly turn into deadly projectiles in the event of a hurricane, trees should be trimmed regularly and any dead limbs should be cut off and removed from the premises. Any antennas or loose objects on the roof should be removed prior to a hurricane making landfall.
Reviewing Property and Business Insurance Plans
Commercial property owners and managers should regularly review the business’s commercial property insurance coverage and understand exactly what is covered in the event of a storm. This includes verifying if there are any policy limitations on coverage for hurricane damage, if there is flood insurance coverage, and whether or not tenants have up to date insurance coverage as required in their commercial lease.
Unfortunately, even if coverage seems verified after reviewing your policy, insurers can still attempt to delay, underpay, or even deny commercial property damage claims. In order to adequately ensure what is and isn’t covered under a commercial insurance policy, it’s important to consult a knowledgeable insurance attorney.
Houston Commercial Property Damage Attorneys
Active hurricane seasons are stressful enough for business owners. As the current hurricane season has now entered its peak, it’s crucial to ensure all necessary measures are taken in the event of a storm, including reviewing commercial property insurance policy in advance. At Raizner Law, we understand that your business is an investment. If you are in need of a commercial property damage attorney, contact our legal team today to discuss your claim.