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Hurricanes in Delaware

When is Hurricane Season in Delaware?

The official hurricane season in Delaware aligns with the Atlantic hurricane season, commencing on June 1 and concluding on November 30. While Delaware is not as frequently impacted by hurricanes as some other U.S. states, it is not immune to these powerful storms. According to the National Hurricane Center, Delaware has been affected by tropical depressions, tropical storms, and major hurricanes.

The following graph visualizes Delaware's hurricane activity.

Historical hurricane frequencies in Delaware visualized: Comparing Atlantic Ocean originated storms with Delaware landfall events using NOAA tropical cyclone path data

This image, based on hurricane paths dating back to 1851, showcases the likelihood of Delaware experiencing a tropical cyclone on any given day within the year. Constructed with raw data from the NOAA Hurricane Research Division, the graph compares actual storm landfalls in Delaware to the storm pattern across the entire Atlantic basin. It provides a comprehensive understanding of Delaware's hurricane activity within the context of the Atlantic hurricane season.

Where Do Hurricanes Hit Most in Delaware?

Delaware's Coastal regions are most susceptible to hurricanes, specifically Sussex County and its surrounding areas. These regions are often subjected to hurricane-force winds, with storms frequently causing significant damage to properties and infrastructure.

Inland areas, while less prone to hurricanes, are still susceptible to the impacts of these storms. The flooding caused by hurricanes can often extend well beyond the coastal regions, impacting even the furthest reaches of the state. Storm surges associated with hurricanes can also cause extensive damage to low-lying inland areas that are connected to the sea via waterways.

According to NOAA, storm surge is produced by water being pushed toward the shore by the force of the winds moving cyclonically around the storm.

Delaware tropical cyclone risk heat map: Regions color-coded based on frequency of hurricanes and tropical storms, weighted by wind speed, derived from NOAA's historical cyclone track data

The graph above provides a visual representation of hurricane risks in Delaware. The risk is defined by the frequency of occurrence weighted by wind speed. The areas in red indicate high-risk zones, typically concentrated along the coastline, particularly in Sussex County. The color's intensity reflects the risk level, graduating from blue to red. Blue zones, representing lower-risk areas, are predominantly located inland.

What Are the Recent Hurricanes in Delaware?

  • Hurricane Isaias, August 2020: Although Delaware was spared the brunt of the storm, Hurricane Isaias still caused significant damage in the state. Widespread power outages were reported, primarily in New Castle and Sussex counties.
  • Hurricane Sandy, October 2012: Often referred to as "Superstorm Sandy," this hurricane caused extensive damage throughout the state. The Delaware Bay and Atlantic coastlines were particularly affected, with significant beach erosion and flooding reported. There were no reported deaths in Delaware, but the economic impact was significant, particularly in coastal communities.
  • Hurricane Irene, August 2011: Irene caused extensive flooding and wind damage in Delaware, especially in Kent and Sussex counties. The storm resulted in one death and caused widespread power outages.
  • Hurricane Isabel, September 2003: Isabel brought heavy rain and high winds to Delaware, causing widespread power outages and some flooding. However, no deaths were reported in Delaware as a result of Isabel.
  • Hurricane Floyd, September 1999: Floyd caused extensive flooding in Delaware, especially in New Castle and Sussex counties. Two people were killed in the storm, and the economic impact was significant due to property damage and loss of business.
  • Hurricane Fran, September 1996: Fran brought heavy rain and high winds to Delaware, causing some flooding and power outages. However, no deaths were reported in Delaware as a result of Fran.

How to Prepare for a Hurricane Season in Delaware

Preparation is key when facing the threat of a hurricane. It is essential to plan and prepare well ahead of the hurricane season to mitigate potential damage and ensure safety. Before a Hurricane

Before a hurricane strikes, taking appropriate measures can significantly reduce damage and save lives. This section discusses hurricane safety and outlines a hurricane preparation checklist.

  • Stay Informed: Stay updated about the weather forecast, especially during hurricane season. Use reliable sources such as the National Weather Service for accurate information.
  • Prepare Your Home: Reinforce doors and windows to withstand high winds. Clear your yard of any debris that could potentially become a dangerous projectile.
  • Emergency Kit: Assemble an emergency kit with essentials like food, water, medication, and other supplies that can last for at least 72 hours.
  • Evacuation Plan: Identify evacuation routes and safe shelters in your area. Discuss and practice the plan with all family members.
  • Insurance: Check your insurance policies to ensure they cover damages caused by hurricanes.

During a Hurricane

Below is a concise list of actions to ensure safety during a hurricane:

  • Stay Informed: Regularly check the news or weather updates. Many localities have text or email alerting systems for emergency notifications.
  • Stay Indoors: During a hurricane, it is safer to stay inside a secure building. Avoid windows and glass doors.
  • Secure Your Home: Before the hurricane hits, make sure to secure your home. Close storm shutters, secure outdoor objects, and turn off utilities if instructed to do so.
  • Evacuate if Necessary: If authorities instruct you to evacuate, do so promptly. Be sure to follow the designated evacuation routes.
  • Prepare Supplies: Stock up on emergency supplies such as food, water, medications, and necessary personal items. Make sure you have a battery-powered or hand-crank radio to stay updated on the situation.
  • Check on Neighbors: If it is safe, check on your neighbors, especially if they are elderly or have special needs. Everyone's safety is important during a hurricane.

After a Hurricane

The following steps provide a brief guideline on what to do after a hurricane.

  • Safety First: Check for injuries and seek immediate medical attention if needed. Be cautious of hazards such as downed power lines, contaminated water, gas leaks, or damaged buildings.
  • Notify Authorities: Report any damages or hazards to local officials. Contact your local disaster relief service, like the Red Cross, if your home is uninhabitable.
  • Document Damages: It's essential to document property damage for insurance purposes. Take photographs and make a list of all damaged items.
  • Contact Insurance Company: Notify your insurance company as soon as possible about the damages. Keep all receipts related to repair, cleaning, or living expenses if you have to evacuate.
  • Clean and Repair: Begin clean-up and repairs once it's safe. Wear protective clothing and work with professionals for major repairs.
  • Contact FEMA for Assistance: If your losses are not covered by insurance, you may be eligible for federal assistance through FEMA.