As the new coronavirus or COVID-19 has turned the lives of many in Texas and across the nation upside-down, the 2020 hurricane season is poised to be incredibly challenging, especially for those living along the coast. Though this year’s hurricane season is just beginning, the rapid rate at which these powerful storms are forming is a major cause for concern. Understanding what this could mean for the remaining months of 2020 could help commercial property owners be better prepared for the potentially powerful hurricane season.
Rapid Start to Hurricane Season
Hurricane season typically begins June 1 and lasts through November; however, this year storms began forming as early as May. The rapid rate at which these storms have formed has quickly become a cause of concern for many. For instance, tropical storm Cristobal made landfall along the Gulf Coast after forming the earliest third tropical storm on record after being named on June 2.
Before Cristobal, tropical storms Arthur and Bertha had both formed in late May prior to the official start of the 2020 hurricane season. Three storms forming prior to or at the beginning of hurricane season all affecting the United States hasn’t occurred since 2004, according to the National Hurricane Center (NHC).
Experts have cautioned that some hurricane data can be deceiving. Colorado State University Meteorologist, Phil Klotzbach states that, “although official hurricane records go back to 1851, improvements in sensing technology have allowed us to detect weak storms that may not have been named even 25 years ago.” With these technological advancements in mind, it is unclear if the remainder of the 2020 hurricane season will be as active.
What to Expect for the Remainder of 2020
While a fast start to a hurricane season is a cause for concern, it actually doesn’t directly correlate to how the remainder of the season will unfold. For instance, in 1997 the NHC noted that five storms formed by mid-July, however only three more storms cropped up for the rest of the season.
The relationship between early-forming storms and overall hurricane and tropical storm activity is typically most meaningful during the months of June and July when storms form out of the deep tropics. This is because these storms typically predict a more active year, although there is no real guarantee of that either.
Nearly all predicted forecasts showcase the potential for an unusually active season for 2020 due to the current atmospheric and oceanic conditions, which are perfect for hurricane formation. Colorado State meteorologists predict as many as 19 named storms in 2020, nine of which will likely be hurricanes.
Protective Steps Commercial Property Owners Can Take
Business and commercial property owners have been among the most impacted by the COVID-19 fallout. With the potential for a devastating hurricane season coupled with ongoing efforts to slow the spread of coronavirus, it’s important that business owners remain diligent.
Hurricanes are typically the most the damaging of natural disasters, with incredibly strong winds, detrimental flooding, and even spinning off tornadoes. In order for commercial property owners to best protect their livelihood from these devastating storms, they should consider taking the following steps:
Ensure the roof is in good condition
The roof is one of the most vulnerable components of a property when exposed to the powerful elements of a hurricane. Ensuring routine maintenance is performed can prolong the life of the roof while also reducing potential roof damage during an adverse weather event.
Prepare any outdoor signage
Outdoor signs and other business accessories left outdoors can become windborne debris if not adequately secured or stored. Before a hurricane or tropical storm is expected to hit, it’s important to confirm sign connections are in adequate condition and/or to remove signage from the structure entirely and store it indoors.
Account for packaged terminal air conditioners
Some commercial properties – such as hotels – use packaged terminal air conditioners (PTACs) rather than centralized heating and cooling systems. Prior to a hurricane or tropical storm, these units should be assessed to ensure they are properly installed and will be able to resist wind-driven rain.
Have a backup power source
Onsite generators provide a critical defense against power interruptions. A generator is an independent source of electricity that powers important electrical utilities when the normal power supply is not active. If the power goes out and a business property does not have a generator in place, it will be incredibly difficult to regain power in a timely manner in the event of widespread outages due to a hurricane. Business and property owners should operate and maintain generators in accordance with manufacturer recommendations, including periodic testing and refreshing of fuel.
Review insurance policies
Commercial property owners should be well versed on what is and isn’t covered under their property insurance policy or policies, as standard policy language typically does not cover hurricane, earthquake, or flood damage, unless a policy endorsement is in effect prior to a natural disaster.
Unfortunately, even if a policy does contain the proper endorsements, insurance companies still routinely deny, delay, and/or underestimate the value of commercial property damage claims. This behavior may become even more exaggerated as insurers already face thousands of COVID-related loss claims in addition to any claims for loss that will crop up during hurricane season. If your commercial property sustains hurricane damage that is covered by your insurance policy, but your carrier won’t pay the claim, enlist the help of an experienced insurance coverage attorney.
Commercial property owners struggling to reopen and get back to work amid COVID-19, now also have to worry about the potential threat of a powerful hurricane season. At Raizner Law, we know firsthand just how devastating hurricanes can be for Texans, especially amid insurance coverage concerns pertaining to coronavirus claims. Now, more than ever before, it is imperative to hire an experienced insurance coverage attorney who will fight to get your business the funds it needs to survive. If you or someone you know has suffered damage to a residential or commercial property due to a hurricane or other natural disaster, contact Raizner Law today for a free consultation to discuss your case.