A strong Pacific Northwest storm powered by Pacific Ocean Typhoon Songda hit parts of the West Coast, including northwest California, Oregon and western Washington with high winds and rain on Saturday, October 15, 2016. The storm caused significant damage associated with downed power lines and trees to vehicles, homes, businesses and other property. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration noted winds of 102 mph in Oregon at the height of the storm with gusts around 50 to 60 mph occurring on average during the event. The storm created 150 mph winds and 50-foot waves offshore.
NASA issued a warning to residents and travelers after Typhoon Songda changed from a cyclone to a tropical storm on Thursday, October 13, 2016. Beyond the general downed power lines and trees, other damage caused by the storm included severe power outages for thousands of residents in Oregon and Washington and coastal erosion and flooding. A tornado water spout struck Manzanita, Oregon on Friday causing two city blocks of severe damage. The impact to businesses and homes was so severe that three structures, a home and two businesses, were deemed completely unusable and the mayor of the town issued a state of emergency.
Areas affected by the storm are expected to continue to receive heavy rain through this coming week with northern California expecting at least a foot of rain. High surf condition advisories are expected to also continue along the coast through the week. All travelers should use extreme caution in the affected areas.
It is a well-known fact that many insurance companies refuse to offer coverage to home and business owners and renters who choose to live in areas that frequently experience horrible weather and geologic conditions, such as earthquakes, floods and hurricanes. Those insurers that do offer coverage typically provide it at incredibly high premium rates.
NASA’s recent travel warning related to Pacific Ocean Typhoon Songda and the subsequent downgraded storm that battered the West Coast this Saturday has brought up another question regarding insurance: Should people who knowingly choose to travel during severe weather and geologic events be allowed to submit claims to their insurance companies? Insurance companies expect people to do everything in their power to prevent an accident. If that were not the case, companies would not investigate the events that happened before an accident. When enough insured persons do things that help accidents along, such as drive to a fast food restaurant in the middle of a major storm when there is plenty of food in their home or drive into a known advisory area, companies often raise rates for everyone. Some people have begun to wonder if the best way to prevent rate increases would be a rule that requires all companies to drop those who make these types of critical errors in judgement.
Research into the psychology related to weather warnings though suggests that some people should not be held accountable for their decisions. Many people do not trust weather predictions because of past false alarms.