CoreLogic Storm Surge Report Issued Today as Hurricane Season Begins Tomorrow

Be prepared, but while hurricanes threaten the East and Gulf coasts, Flagler Co. is not high on the probability list. Fires and intense thunder storms are more common locally.

Palm Coast, FL – May 31, 2013 – CoreLogic today issued its 2013 Storm Surge Report which examines single-family residential structures (homes) exposed to potential hurricane-driven storm-surge damage along the Gulf and Atlantic coasts in the U.S, including an evaluation of 2012’s Hurricane Sandy. New insights within the 2013 CoreLogic Storm Surge Report include:

  • An expanded overview of potential storm-surge risk that could occur in the event a one-foot, two-foot or three-foot sea-level rise
  • Innovative analysis that provides a glimpse into the potential for increased risk in the event that ocean levels increase in coming years
  • An explanation of the enhanced storm-surge methodology using valuations determined with CoreLogic Automated Valuation Model (AVM) data that is more geographically comprehensive than previous valuation methods
  • Impact and implications of Hurricane Sandy—the largest storm of the 2012 hurricane season

Two separate top-ten lists provide an overview of major metropolitan areas ranked by total properties at risk and the total value of those properties based on CoreLogic property improvement value. The two most nearby cities making the top ten list were Miami to the south and Charleston, S.C. to the north.

Four other Florida cities joined Miami on the top ten lists; Tampa/St. Petersburg, Cape Coral, Naples and Bradenton. Jacksonville made the list of the top 16.

An impressive colored map showed the large area of Jacksonville that would be affected by storm surge if a Category 5 hurricane were to hit these cities. Ranked by the total estimated structural value at risk, Ponte Vedra Beach, Fernandina Beach, St. Augustine, Jacksonville Beach and Atlantic Beach led the Jacksonville area list. Naturally, these are the most easterly low lying lands.

What the report fails to note is the fact that throughout recorded history, not a single major hurricane (category 3 or greater) has ever struck Jacksonville. The eastern Atlantic coastline from Melbourne to Savannah has remained immune from major hurricane landfalls.

Where is America most vulnerable to a hurricane strike? The International Hurricane Research Center (IHRC) — the official center for Florida’s 11 universities that works alongside the National Hurricane Center — created a list a few years ago of the nation’s 10 most vulnerable areas. To create the list, the IHRC looked at 12 criteria, though historic hurricane frequency, storm intensity and levee/dike failure were primary determinants. Other considerations include factors such as storm surge and freshwater flooding potential, coastal erosion trends and island breaching history. Socioeconomic factors involved populations at risk, evacuation distance and routes. Of the 10 areas that made the list, Florida netted four spots, though the greatest danger — no surprise here — is to New Orleans. The rankings, in order, include:
Most Vulnerable to Hurricane Strike:

1. New Orleans
2. Lake Okeechobee
3. Florida Keys
4. Coastal Mississippi
5. Miami/Fort Lauderdale
6. Galveston/Houston, Texas
7. Cape Hatteras, N.C.
8. Eastern Long Island, N.Y.
9. Wilmington, N.C.
10. Tampa/St. Petersburg
According to NOAA, a Category 5 hurricane will come within 87 miles of Palm Coast every 220 years on average. Now I’m no stranger to hurricanes. I lived in Charleston, SC in 1989 when Category 5 hurricane Hugo ripped through. The eye of the storm passed directly over my location. It was a horrific experience, one for which no level of preparedness short of evacuation could have mitigated. I didn’t heed the evacuation warnings. I will next time, but being caught in an evacuation isn’t a whole lot better. I still remember a later evacuation where a one-term S.C. Governor surveying the scene from a helicopter received hundreds of one-finger salutes from motorists stranded on Interstate 26 below.

Be prepared but don’t obsess. Recently adopted Florida building codes are designed to minimize storm damage. A hurricane could still hit but fires, not hurricanes, represent our greatest danger to Flagler County.

Everyone should have a Disaster Preparedness Plan for any disaster. You should know the evacuation routes. Visit the Flagler County Emergency Operations Center or go to their website . And be sure to read the Flagler County/Palm Coast Disaster Preparedness Guide found there.

Only when we are alarmed, do we take cautionary measures, so meteorologists should not be faulted for their dire predictions. We are in for another "above average" named storms year they say. They are trying to get our attention. That’s why I say that meteorologists can accurately predict 12 out of every 4 hurricanes.

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