Hurricanes: They are some of the most incredible, damaging storms on earth. These enormous oceanic tempests form over warm waters; whip themselves into a rainy, windy frenzy; and bash themselves over coastlines. (Because these storms are water-fueled, they cannot long survive land.) Lives are lost, homes are destroyed and many businesses fail following a major hurricane. One of the most common causes of post-hurricane business failure is the loss of flood damaged documents.
Every business needs access to critical, preferably dry documents in order to carry out its tasks. The threat of a tax audit is only one of many instances when a company’s documents are crucial for survival of the organization.
This article reviews the science behind hurricanes as well as the current prediction for the 2012 hurricane season, according to some of the world’s leading experts on tropical storms. Finally, we explain how some businesses are turning flood damaged documents into dry documents using advanced technology.
How Hurricanes are Formed
The official term “hurricane” is actually only one type of storm that forms over oceans. The more general scientific name for the earth’s largest, most awesome storms is tropical cyclones. These tropical cyclones (hurricanes in the Atlantic and eastern Pacific, typhoons in the northwestern Pacific Ocean and cyclones in the Indian ocean) all boast warm cores, which is unusual as far as storms go.
Hurricanes form over warm tropical waters, right around the equator. When warm, moist tropical air rises, as all warm air does, it leaves an area of low pressure beneath it. Surrounding air rushes in to take the warm air’s place. The warm, moist air cools as it rises and soon forms clouds. This becomes the cap for a storm that is fueled by warm air and evaporation. You can think of tropical cyclones as engines that guzzle warm, sticky air instead of gasoline.
Having a bit of background information is handy when deciphering meteorologists’ predictions concerning the 2012 hurricane season.
Hurricane Season 2012: Fewer Storms Due to Cooling in the Atlantic
Colorado State University meteorologists Dr. Philip Klotzbach and Dr. William Gray recently published the 29th edition of their Atlantic basic hurricane forecast. These two scientists have half a century of study between them on the formation of tropical storms. Their report predicts an El Nino event during the summer and early fall of 2012. El Nino tends to have a calming effect on Atlantic hurricanes, since it causes a rise in the overall temperature of the Pacific Ocean.
On average, the Atlantic coast tends to see about six hurricanes a year, the average of hurricane seasons between 1981 and 2010. The full report from Klotzbach and Gray states that there is a 42 percent chance that at least one major hurricane will hit the U.S. coastline this year. In comparison, there has been a 52 percent average probability of this happening in the U.S. for the last century.
Still, even a calm hurricane season can be devastating to businesses. It’s not unusual for a major hurricane to wipe out entire coastal communities in so-called weak hurricane years. For instance, 1992 was predicted to be an inactive year for hurricanes, yet that’s the year Hurricane Andrew tore through Florida and Louisiana, leaving 250,000 people homeless. Last year’s hurricane Irene also proves this point. Irene killed dozens of people and was to blame for $7 billion in damages along the Atlantic coast.
How Hurricane Damage Affects Businesses
Hurricanes destroy everything in their wake. For a business, losing flood damaged documents can be absolutely fatal. Just think about all of the important files in your firm’s filing cabinets – client invoices, insurance documents, employment history, HR files, healthcare information and more. Could your business survive without this data? It’s highly unlikely.
Looking at flood damaged documents, it’s easy to believe they are irreparable. How does one prevent the paper from tearing? And what about all that runny ink? Well, engineers have been successful at providing the answer to these questions. Businesses that specialize in reviving flood damaged documents often have their own patent-protected process for creating dry documents. For instance, Polygon has a patent-protected desiccant air dry distribution system for achieving dry documents. They also use a special vacuum freeze drying system for restoring books. Such sophisticated systems can save a business by restoring flood damaged documents.
Of course, restoring flood damaged documents is just one of many critical problems a business owner must resolve in the weeks and months following a hurricane. Still, at least with dry documents, a business owner can access the company’s critical history.
[ Photo by: NASA Goddard Photo and Video, via CC License ]