Hurricanes cause a lot of damage, with the average cost running up to $21.6 billion in the US. The destruction inflicted by hurricanes include injuries, loss of life and property, and social and environmental damage. Technology, however, can play a huge role in mitigating the damages of these natural catastrophes by providing early warning systems and being used in design and construction technologies to build stronger structures.
Better Weather Predictions
The most immediate threat from hurricanes are the powerful winds, which can reach speeds of up to 150mi or 241km per hour – a force that can uproot trees, knock down poles, or rip off roofs. Hence, if you know in advance that a potential gigantic storm is about to hit your area, you can brace yourself for the worst – that is, evacuate or prepare your home. In this regard, meteorologists have worked hard to come up with a forecasting tool using supercomputers amassing a vast amount of data and inputting it into virtual models of hurricane seasons. These computers can predict when the storms will form, how big they will become, their behavior, and their evolution.
Luckily, the accuracy of weather predictions has drastically improved over the years, and 90% of the time, a five-day forecast is correct, giving people enough leeway to prepare or evacuate. For example, boarding up homes and securing roofs, shingles and outdoor items are some of the things that homeowners can do to prepare for the arrival of a storm, as well as filling up the generator for power outages and stockpiling non-perishable food and water. For individuals, installing hurricane apps on their devices can also assist in connecting with people and emergency services during a hurricane. To illustrate, Weather+ gives you the latest updates on the hurricane, while Firechat, which is a messaging app, is convenient and useful because it can work without any cellphone signal or access to a network.
Design and Construction Technologies
Technology has also evolved over the years, enabling the creation of durable building materials that are hurricane proof. Today, it is possible to erect a structure and protect it from hurricanes. New builds are designed using the concept of a building envelope, protecting the exterior from air, water, light, and even winds of 120mph or more. Hurricane protection technologies include impact-resistant windows, reinforced steel doors, and hurricane shutters.
Another construction technology is the insulating concrete forms (ICF) system, which involves using a reinforced concrete and steel framework in interlocking modular units on walls and floors of buildings. These are airtight, well-insulated, and fire and natural disaster resistant. Older structures also benefit from using technologies to retrofit homes and buildings to become more hurricane resistant. Reinforcing gabled roofs, making secondary water barriers, and installing hurricane straps/clips to secure a roof are some of the technologies in renovation and construction.
Hurricanes are devastating. Fortunately, with advances in technology, it is possible to predict their arrival and behavior, allowing time to prepare or evacuate. Developments in building materials such as steel door systems, shatter-proof windows, and reinforced walls help in safeguarding lives and property from destruction.