Tropical Depressions and Tropical Storm Damage During Hurricane Season in Orlando

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Tropical Depressions and Tropical Storm Damage During Hurricane Season in Orlando

Tropical Depressions and Tropical Storm Damage During Hurricane Season in OrlandoOn July 25, 2021, the Orlando Sentinel warned us that a low-pressure system near the Florida-Georgia coast could become a tropical depression and the tropical depression could become a tropical storm, which could develop into a hurricane. The next day, the National Hurricane Center in Miami reported that it was becoming less likely that a tropical depression would develop, but conditions should still be monitored because heavy rainfall and strong winds could occur in local areas.

Warnings like this and ones that are far more dire are common in Florida during Hurricane Season. So common, in fact, that many of us ignore them.  More rain, more wind, so what? That’s summer in Florida, we think.

Yet, if we stop to think more about what really goes on in terms of severe weather and the damage it causes, we might realize that we need to be more aware and more prepared. After all, we have already had four tropical storms and one hurricane this year and we are still more than a month away from the peak of Hurricane Season 2021 (September 10th).

What Are Tropical Depressions?

According to the National Weather Service, a tropical depression is a cyclone (i.e., a low pressure system over tropical water with sustained winds circling around a definite center) with winds traveling 38 mph or less.  These winds are not classified as damaging winds (greater than 50 mph) by the National Weather Service, but they can still cause damage to roofs, trees and items left outside.

Tropical depressions are monitored closely because they can quickly develop into stronger storms. They can also dissipate but re-form later, gathering strength and speed. Even if they do not become strong, they can cause localized heavy, damaging rainfall and strong winds.

How Damaging Are Tropical Storms?

The National Weather Service defines a tropical storm as a cyclone with winds ranging from 39 – 73 mph. The stronger the winds, the more damage a tropical storm can cause.

The National Weather Service uses the Beaufort scale, originally developed by Britain’s Admiral Sir Francis Beaufort in 1805, to estimate wind speeds and their corresponding effects. According to the Beaufort scale, damaging winds are numbers 9 through 12, with tropical storms occurring in the 9 through 11 range:

  • Beaufort Number 9 – Strong Gale: With 47 to 54 mph winds, structural damage to property occurs, including chimney covers, roofing shingles or tiles and antennas. Tree branches break off and can also cause damage.
  • Beaufort Number 10 – Whole Gale: With 55 to 63 mph winds, a lot of structural damage occurs, especially to roofs. In addition to branches breaking off trees, small tress can be blown over or uprooted.
  • Beaufort Number 11 – Storm Force: With winds between 64 to 75 mph, widespread structural damage occurs, and larger trees can be blown over and uprooted.

Heavy rainfall associated with tropical storms can, of course, also cause extensive damage to structures and personal property. Water entering homes and other buildings through damaged roofs, windows or foundations can be devastating.

What To Do When Your Orlando Home or Other Property is Damaged by a Tropical Storm

The National Weather Service reminds us that the number of tropical storms “increases substantially” in August and “peaks” in mid-September. In other words, we can expect more storms and stronger storms in the next two months. Given this reality, it is important to know what to do in case your home, business or other property is damaged during a storm.

Most experts recommend following these steps when your property has been damaged by a tropical storm:

  1. Move your family to a safe location. If your home has been damaged during a tropical storm, it could be dangerous to remain there. Broken glass, water in the home, and damage to the home’s structure can make the environment unsafe. Getting to a safe location and securing temporary housing for your family is a top priority.
  2. Assess the damage to your property. After you are assured that your loved ones are safe, examine the damage to your home or other property, but make sure you aren’t putting yourself in danger. If possible, take pictures of all of the damage so you have an objective record of the damage to include with your insurance claim.
  3. Contact your insurance company. Contact your homeowner’s insurance company as soon after the storm as possible to initiate the claims process. It is also a good idea to review your insurance policy so you understand what is and is not covered.
  4. Compile documentary evidence. In addition to pictures documenting the full extent of damage to your property, you should gather documents that support the value of your losses. For example, if electronic equipment or other personal belongings were damaged, try to locate receipts for the items, or if you recently replaced the roof and it was damaged, try to locate the invoice for the new roof.
  5. Get at least two independent estimates. After you contact your insurance company, they will most likely send an adjuster to examine your property and evaluate your losses. It is always a good idea to get your own independent estimates of repair and/or replacement costs so you have an informed basis from which to assess and discuss the adjuster’s evaluation.
  6. Know your rights as an insurance policyholder. As a Florida insurance policyholder, you have certain rights during the claims process assured by law in the Homeowners Bill of Rights.

What to Do When Disputes with Your Insurance Company Cannot Be Resolved

When your insurance company unreasonably delays, undervalues or unfairly denies your storm damage claim, it is in your best interest to seek the help of an experienced Orlando insurance claim attorney. The storm damage attorneys at Malik Law have years of successful experience negotiating with and litigating against insurance companies. We have helped our clients recover millions of dollars from insurance companies and want to help you obtain the payment you deserve.

Imran Malik
Imran Malik
Imran Malik, rated AV® Preeminent, by Martindale-Hubbell, is the founding member of Malik Law P.A. An AV® Rating signifies that a lawyer has reached the heights of professional excellence. He has practiced law for a number of years, and is recognized for the highest levels of skill and integrity by fellow attorneys in his area of practice. Martindale-Hubbell is the oldest and most trusted lawyer information service in America.