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How Do Hurricanes Affect Drinking Water?

As we all now, a hurricane is like a giant tornado, with winds circulating around a calm center at 75 mph or more. Yet even though we've seen the devastation of a hurricane like Katrina, how many of us are fully prepared? Given we're well into the hurricane season, there's no better time to discuss the importance of preparing you and your family for the dangers.

2010 Hurricane Season

The hurricane season starts June 1st and ends November 30th, and again this year (2010) the National Hurricane Center has predicted an above average number of storms in the Atlantic. The first, category 2 hurricane Alex, appeared less than a month after the season began. At the rate of one a month, the Atlantic Ocean will surely reach its predicted quota.

Initial fear that Alex would strike Florida proved unfounded. Instead the hurricane moved across the Gulf and slammed into Mexico, leaving several dead and millions of dollars in damage. That was good news for the United States, but of course bad news for Mexico.

However, it was not all good news for the U.S.. The storm hampered cleanup progress of the BP oil disaster that started on April 20th and there is still serious concern that oil could be blown and stretched out across the Gulf of Mexico and it's beaches over the next couple months. This would obviously make cleanup much more difficult than it already is.

Hurricane Katrina


The destructive power of a hurricane is in the wind, but also in the amount of water it drops. Katrina, for example, dropped 15 inches of rain in some regions in less than a 24 hour period. An inch of rain drops 65,000 tons of water per square mile, and the average hurricane covers 8000 square miles! That much water inevitably has the potential to be very destructive!

Extreme Weather and Our Drinking Water

Why do weather extremes like this affect drinking water? Hurricane rain is not just unadulterated distilled water. It can often contain chemicals similar to acid rain yet also churn up undrinkable salt water from the ocean that causes corrosive damage. This water essentially has a negative impact on any source of drinking water it touches. This is particularly noticeable in rural areas where high volumes of run-off from fields containing fertilizers and other chemicals can quickly contaminate  karsts and private wells.

In more populated ares, polluted floodwater is typically an even bigger concern as it mixes and contaminates the water supplies of municipal water systems. Damage to municipal water pipes is often a part of storm destruction, and this means that safe drinking water is unable to get to homes and individuals on that pipeline for days, weeks, and sometimes months.

Make Sure You Are Prepared


Prepare Yourself and Your Family

Knowing all this, how can one be prepared for a possible hurricane disaster? Of course, some parts of a disaster are unavoidable and they must be endured until the crisis is over. But other foreseeable problems can be a part of the preparation. For example, if you live in a flood plain, or along the coasts where hurricanes (or typhoons on the Pacific coast) may occur, it would be wise to stock up on food, clean water or a water filter, and at least a 2 day responder pack for your family. These are just the basics, but every family should begin with this foundation for preparedness. Do you research as many disaster survival companies have just the sort of supplies you would need.

For water security, we recommend purchasing a gravity fed water filter like the Berkey water filter. These are very efficient in removing virtually anything that may threaten your health such as pathogenic bacteria and chemicals. The berkey filter will provide clean drinking and cooking water you could trust for the duration of the disaster that you experience. There is a peace of mind in knowing that you have water security for you and your family in the event of a potential hurricane disaster.

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