Bracing for tornado fury again?

Winston-Salem, NC 3/2/2012

It was deja fury all over again in the Midwest this week, where devastating tornadoes seemed to pick up where they left off last spring. Hardest hit were Branson, Mo., where twisters killed three, injured 32 and caused heavy damage to its popular country music theaters, and Harrisburg, Ill., which reported six dead, more than 100 injured and at least 200 homes destroyed.

Fortunately, the storms hit a week before the onslaught of tourist season in Branson. Unfortunately, experts expect more of the same in the coming weeks.

Forecasters at AccuWeather.com predict a higher-than-average tornado season again this year, sort of a second act to 2011, which ranked as the fourth most deadly on record. There were 1,709 tornadoes last year, which just missed the record of 1,817 set in 2004.  Last year's tornado season flattened a third of Joplin, Mo., killing 161 and destroying 7,500 homes. Forecasters predict another very active tornado season for 2012.

What's with all the twisters? Two words, en espanol: La Nina. Apparently when water temperatures in the central and eastern Pacific cool, as they do in La Nina years, the jet stream strengthens, spreading "Tornado Alley" eastward from Texas and Kansas into the Gulf States and the Ohio and Tennessee valleys. This year, above-normal Gulf temperatures are expected to fuel the thunder storms that produce tornadoes.

The AccuWeather prognosticators say March will be the most active month for residents of eastern Texas and the Gulf States, while April will tend to bring more tornadoes to the lower Ohio and middle Mississippi valleys.

From Oklahoma, North Carolina and Virginia to as far north as Minnesota, few states in the eastern half of the country were spared tornado damage in 2011. Insurers paid out $1.13 billion in claims following the May 22 tornado that flattened a third of Joplin, Mo., destroying an estimated 7,500 homes and killing 161. Catastrophe modeling firm AIR Worldwide estimated the losses from April 2011 alone at $3.7 billion to $5.5 billion.

Have you reviewed you homeowner's policy to make sure you are appropriately protected? If you live in North Carolina, now might be the time to review your coverage and brace for another active tornado season.  Please contact us with any questions.

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Several months ago we had a flood in our home due to a defective valve in our guest bathroom. Needless to say we came home to a disaster. We immediately contacted our agent, Linda Welborn. Right on the spot she gave us the name and phone number of a company to call (Disaster One). They came out that evening (around 11:30pm) and worked through the following morning around 6:30am. They did an outstanding job! We were so impressed with their "sense of urgency" and "expertise" we assigned all of our repairs to their company. The insurance adjuster(Erie Insurance) cut no corners when it came to replacing damaged items. They issued repair orders on things we weren't even aware we needed to look for. They too did a great job in getting everything processed quickly. It's great to have such a Professional agent who treats us like we are her only customer. I have been so impressed with her outstanding customer service that I refer many people to your agency because of the great care and attention she gives to her customers. Thank you Linda for your outstanding service! We look forward to working with you in the years to come.
Linda Martinez, Merfin Systems, LLC

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