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Are You Prepared for the Storm Season Ahead?

There is no denying the power of Mother Nature. While she can be a friend and a foe, nearly three out of four Americans believe her volatility is growing increasingly severe. The extreme weather events are also becoming a great source of angst for many Americans, according to an exclusive study fielded by The Weather Company in partnership with Morning Consult.

Nearly 40% of those surveyed said they had experienced severe weather that damaged their homes or made them evacuate, with one in five happening in the last five years. Yet, the study revealed two in five people are not well prepared for a severe storm.

The 2019 Hurricane Season

As we head into National Hurricane Preparedness Week (May 5 to 11), the 2019 hurricane forecast for the Atlantic and Tropicspredicts 14 named storms, with the potential for seven hurricanes and three major hurricanes in 2019 for the Atlantic and Tropics. Compared to the previous season, this is a slight decrease in activity. The Atlantic hurricane season lasts from June 1 through November 30.

“El Niño conditions are expected to continue throughout the North Atlantic hurricane season, which will enable an atmospheric pattern that is not conducive for increased tropical development,” says Dr. Todd Crawford, chief meteorologist for The Weather Company. “Alternatively, the North Atlantic Ocean temperatures are warmer-than-normal, which tends to produce above normal activity levels. The combination of El Niño conditions and warm Atlantic waters suggest a near-normal season that is similar to last year. Much like the 2017 weather pattern that produced Hurricane Florence and Hurricane Michael, there is still the potential for intense tropical cyclones in 2019.”

Below are highlights of the study, which included data on preparedness and the correlation between severe weather and emotions.

Americans believe the weather has gotten more severe, yet 4 in 10 have no plans to handle an emergency.   

  • 72% believe the weather has gotten at least a bit more severe; a quarter of all Americans say the weather has gotten significantly more severe.
  • 42% do not have an evacuation plan.
  • Only 31% of Americans said they would always evacuate if ordered to do so.
  • Only 16% have a preparedness kit packed in preparation for a severe weather event.

Severe weather conditions cause stress and anxiety. How we cope differs among age, gender, and geography.

  • Severe weather conditions make 55% of Americans more anxious or stressed.
  • More than half of Americans (57%) say big storms make them more concerned about others over themselves.
  • 42% Americans say that a heavy storm makes them more likely to be affectionate with their partner, but more so for men (47%) than women (37%).  
  • Millennials are 9x more likely to be more affectionate (61%) than less affectionate (7%).

About a third of Americans prefer comfort foods when severe weather strikes.

  • Respondents most frequently cited pizza, chips, soup, ice cream, and chocolate as their comfort foods of choice to consume during severe weather. 
  • About a third of Millenials will drink alcohol during a big storm, compared to only 16% of the general population. The majority prefer beer (42%), far outpacing bourbon or whiskey (12%), red wine (12%) or a cold cocktail (12%).

Americans turn to their devices when storms are looming. 

  • 62% Americans watch TV or streaming services during a storm, with Gen X leading the pack at 67%, and Boomers at a healthy 59%.
  • About half of Americans spend their time inside browsing the Internet.

Local TV news remains a trusted source for weather updates.

  • Local broadcast TV still dominates with older viewers: 61% of Boomers rely on traditional TV for updates, outpacing 39% of Millennials and 31% of Gen Z respondents who turn to local broadcast for their weather news.
  • Nearly half of Millennials and 40% of Gen Z use smartphone apps for weather information, along with 40% of Boomers.
  • 67% of people check their phones more than 3x per day for timely updates during severe weather events.

Tornadoes are the most frightening severe weather event.

Over half of Americans (53%) found tornadoes to be the most frightening natural disasters, followed by earthquakes (31%) and hurricanes (29%).

When broken down further by region:

  • More than half of people across the Midwest (69%), South (65%) and Northeast (52%) were most afraid of tornadoes.
  • 44% of Southerners found hurricanes to be one of the most frightening.

An increasing number of Americans have experienced a severe weather event.

  • Over one-third respondents (39%) have encountered a severe weather event that damaged their homes and/or made them evacuate.
  • 21% of these respondents have experienced a severe weather event in the last 5 years.

Before a hurricane, people are somewhat to very likely to purchase the following products**:

  • Batteries or flashlights - 60%
  • First aid supplies - 55%
  • Generators - 38%
  • Home insurance - 37%
  • Auto insurance - 31%
  • Tools - 29%

When a storm approaches, people prepare by**:

  • Stocking up on groceries and supplies - 68%
  • Filling their cars with gas - 65%
  • Taking out money - 46%
  • Making sure they have enough medication - 46%

How the survey was conducted: Fielded among 2,200 adults 18+ across the United States from April 28, 2019 to April 29, 2019, by Morning Consult on behalf of The Weather Company, an IBM Business. Margin of error ± 2%.

*The Weather Company internal data

**Watson Advertising Hurricane Survey September 2017

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