As of June 1, we are officially in the hurricane season in the Atlantic and Central Pacific regions, which runs through November 30. Hurricanes need warm ocean water to form, and hurricane season is when the tropical waters climb above 80 degrees. Ideal hurricane conditions exist over this warm water and the atmosphere above it cools very quickly the higher you go, along with the wind direction blowing warm air upward from the ocean's surface. The months of June through November provide optimal conditions for hurricanes to form, with September seeing the highest number.
The worst thing you can do is wait until a hurricane is imminent to prepare your home and yard to withstand hurricane force winds and rain. And one of the areas of your home that can suffer the most damage is your roof. If there are any gaps in your roof framing or shingles, water can enter where it is soaked up by insulation. This could lead to a collapsed ceiling. Water can also seep through your roof into the walls, leading to mold growth and other damage. Inspect your roof for any signs of damage. Loose shingles should be nailed back down. Consider installing hurricane clips which securely attach the roof to the house framing. Also check the ventilation in your attic to make sure water can't enter through loose eaves, soffits, or end vents.
You should ensure that your gutters remain clean and free-flowing throughout the year. Any gutter clog or low spot can result in overflowing gutters, which will be exponentially more damaging during hurricane-force rain and wind. Secure any loose gutters and downspouts. Make sure that your downspouts are free from any blockage and that they drain well away from your home. If water pools at the bottom of your downspouts, it could eventually find its way down your foundation and into your basement or crawlspace.
If you have any outdoor structures such as a shed, carport, porch, or swing set, make sure they are in good condition and firmly attached to the ground. Have a plan in place to move outdoor furniture, trash cans, and any other movable items that you can put under cover when a storm is imminent. Test your sump pump on a regular basis, and consider installing a battery backup on your sump pump so it remains operational during a power outage. If you have a generator, make sure it is tuned up and full of fresh fuel.
Walk around your yard and look at all your landscaping and trees. On taller trees, trim any large branches, branches that overhang your roof, and any that look dead or diseased. Keeping trees properly pruned will allow the wind to pass through the branches without a lot of damage. If you're not sure about the health of any of your trees, hire a tree company to come in and inspect your trees and recommend removal for any that look diseased or dead. Many will do this inspection free of charge.
While preparing your home ahead of time, also consider putting together a basic disaster supply kit. This can contain non-perishable food, bottled water, flashlights and fresh batteries, a hand-cranked weather radio, personal hygiene items, and first aid supplies. If you have pets or small children, prepare for them as well by stashing extra supplies of pet food, baby formula and diapers.
Always be prepared. It's the Boy Scout Motto for good reason. Don't let Mother Nature catch you off guard when a hurricane is approaching our region. Take steps now to inspect your home for any damage or areas where hurricane force wind and rain could cause major problems. You'll be much better equipped to weather the storm.