Hurricanes + Tropical Storms
Hurricanes and tropical storm systems threaten Connecticut residents with the possibility of storm surges, powerful winds, and heavy rains. These elements can lead to devastating inland and coastal flooding, as well as the loss of power and structural damage to homes and businesses. Coastal communities are most at risk to inundation from a tropical event and coastal flooding. Both coastal and inland communities are at risk to inland flooding and wind damage. Further repercussions from tropical systems include substantial and widespread property damage, and loss of utility services, including electricity, water, telephone, cell service, sewage, and internet.
About Hurricanes & Tropical Storms:
Storm Surge: Storm surge, typically caused by a hurricane or tropical storm, can be the greatest threat to human life and property. This rapid and occasionally extreme rise in water can cause substantial inundation along coastal areas, especially when it coincides with the astronomical high tide. When this occurs, a storm tide of up to twenty feet or more can occur. While Long Island does buffer Connecticut from the open ocean, the geomorphology of Long Island Sound causes the basin to be particularly vulnerable to storm surge. The configuration of Long Island and the Connecticut coast causes a natural funneling influence on ocean waters as they are driven east to west into the Sound by a tropical event, amplifying surges.
Hurricane Intensity (Saffir-Simpson Scale):
- Category 1: Sustained winds of 74 to 95 mph. Has the potential to generate a storm surge four to five feet above predicted tide levels. Well-constructed frame homes may suffer damage to roofs, shingles, vinyl siding, and gutters. Large branches will break and shallowly rooted trees will likely be uprooted. Widespread damage to power lines and poles will likely cause power outages that could last from several days to a week or more. Additionally, minor to moderate coastal flooding is to be expected.
- Category 2: Sustained winds of 96 to 110 mph. A storm surge from a Category 2 Hurricane is generally six to eight feet above predicted tide levels. Well-constructed frame homes could sustain major roof and siding damage. Many shallowly rooted trees will be snapped or uprooted, posing a threat to structures, vital infrastructure and making roads impassable. Extensive power outages would be expected, with outages lasting up to a week or more. Low-lying coastal areas could flood two-to-four hours before the arrival of the storm. Damage to small craft and moored vessels should also be expected.
- Category 3: Sustained winds of 111 to 130 mph, with a storm surge generally nine to twelve feet above predicted tide levels. Well-constructed frame homes may incur severe damage, including the removal of roof decking and gable ends. A large portion of trees will be either snapped or uprooted, leading to property and infrastructure damage. Electricity and water could be unavailable for several weeks. Low-lying coastal areas could flood three to five hours before the system’s landfall. Inundation from flood waters will be extreme, causing damage to structures and property. To prevent loss of life, shoreline evacuations should be expected.
- Category 4: Sustained winds of 131 to 155 mph. A storm surge generally 13 to 18 feet above predicted tide levels is to be expected. Well-constructed frame homes will likely incur severe damage, with loss of most of the roof structure along with possible damage or loss of exterior walls. A majority of trees will either be snapped or uprooted. Almost universal power outages and impassable roads will isolate communities. Power could be unavailable for weeks or months, and hard hit areas will not be habitable for the same length of time.
- Category 5: Sustained winds in excess of 155 mph and a storm surge generally greater than 18 feet above predicted tide levels. A majority of framed homes will be destroyed, with roof failure and wall collapse. Recovery of utilities could take from several weeks to months, with many areas uninhabitable during that period. Low-lying areas closest to the shore could be inundated by rising waters three to five hours before land fall. Major damage to lower floors of all structures located less than 15 feet above sea level and within 500 yards of the shoreline is to be expected. Large scale evacuations of low lying coastal communities within five-to-ten miles of the shoreline should be enforced.