It’s human nature to pay the most attention to the category of the hurricane and the center of the projected path. Just like it’s human nature to look at the accident on the side of the road. Both of those situations can lead to problems. Yes, you should be prepared for a significant wind event with hurricane Dorian and for any hurricanes in the future. But as we plan and watch what Dorian will do with Florida, it's important that we account for all wind-related risks.
Should Dorian strike Florida as a major hurricane anywhere near the center of the state, it's a wind event for the entire east coast of the state. The east coast of Florida would experience tropical-storm-force winds should that comes to pass which means that everything that could become a flying object outside your house is at risk of becoming one if you don’t account for it. We should all be prepared for at least that type of impact at this point. But that’s not the only wind we may have to account for if we don’t take a direct hit from Dorian.
One of the greatest wind risks in hurricanes are tornadoes. Not only are tornadoes in hurricanes possible, but they’re also likely and for those outside of the point of impact are often the greatest wind risk faced. According to the National Weather Service, 20% of all tornadoes during the month of August occur in hurricanes and they’re most likely to occur 50 to 250 miles from the eye of the storm. Should the current forecast path hold for Dorian, South Florida could pose the biggest wind risk. The average major hurricane spawns more than two dozen tornadoes. In certain instances, like hurricane Ivan, more than 100 are possible.
Tornadoes happen quickly, but in hurricanes, there’s generally less than five minutes notice before one touches down. This is part of the reason that treating a hurricane as a spectator sport, like unnecessarily being on the roads, for example, can quickly become dangerous. Mind the store when it comes to these storms. The sustained winds are only part of the equation. In recorded US history, 8% of deaths attributed to hurricanes are due to impacts from sustained winds, 3% of deaths are from tornadoes. That’s a preview of how deadly water tends to be.