How the Mere Threat of a Hurricane Can Disrupt (and Benefit) Businesses



When there is a threat of a hurricane, most people affected will take it very seriously. A hurricane can produce very unwelcome consequences – from damaged homes due to the high winds to flooding and power loss. Fears of these results can create a panic just by the mere mention of a hurricane. Therefore, even if a hurricane does not directly hit a region, it can have major consequences that can affect businesses of all kinds.

Take, for example, some of the headlines we saw in the media for Hurricane Patricia. “Biggest Potential Storm Ever” and “Dangerous Hurricane Patricia” were two phrases that stood out. The best, though, was from Doyle Rice of USA Today: “Patricia’s 200-mph winds will turn planes, vehicles into airborne missiles.” Understandably, residents, travelers, and business owners decided to heed on the side of caution and travel as far inland as possible. The potential consequences of a natural warzone were enough to get them to leave even if it caused some disruption in their lives. Luckily, there wasn’t a panic as meticulous planning and past experience enabled those affected to respond quickly and efficiently.


Hurricanes and Hysteria


In a blog post for PsychCentral, psychiatrist, John M. Grohol, outlined some fears that could lead to a panic. First and foremost, there is the fear of the unknown. The trajectory of a hurricane can change very quickly, which can create anxiety among those who may be wondering whether or not the storm will make landfall and how hard it will hit. In the case of Patricia, Mexico was for the most part spared. The storm regressed into a tropical depression and landed in a mountainous area of Mexico where the typography was able to sustain it. Still, anyone within the scope of Patricia’s projected path was affected in one way or another.

Then there is the fear of what happens if the worst does occur. A hurricane that directly hits a region could cause extreme damage, leave the area without power, and cause many to wonder whether or not they have enough food and water. What if Patricia didn’t slow down and landed somewhere where the winds would have produced more damage?  What if it had hit a populous area or an area with utilities and other potential hazards? We saw how Sandy disrupted the lives of those in the Mid-Atlantic and New England. What impact would an even more powerful storm have on a region?


How Can Businesses Respond to Extreme Weather?




Because of these fears, consumers are more likely to act on the side of precaution when there is a threat of a major storm like a hurricane. They will likely fill up on gas, purchase the necessary food and water rations, and consider getting disaster recovery products, like generators and duct tape, to ensure that they will be ready if the storm does hit.

Notice that the key word in the previous sentence is “if.” When consumers are asking the question of “if?”, then businesses will be affected whether or not the storm actually does hit. This is why companies of all sizes that have locations where hurricanes can hit must consider investing in Weathernomics tools and services to help them plan for consumer demand during hurricane season.

An investment in Weathernomics allows businesses to see how and why customers make purchases because of the weather. Weather data is not enough because it does not tell the whole story. What if there was an aberration in sales during a week several years before, but the weather data showed that there wasn’t a significant weather event during that time? Weather analytics can provide a deeper picture to see whether or not there was the threat of a storm and how consumer behavior changed because of it.

By using Weathernomics, businesses can better plan before the season and update plans in-season due to changes in weather. Businesses can not only make changes in inventory, but also amend marketing plans, logistics, labor, and other operations planning to stay ready for whatever the season may bring.

In the event of a storm, most people will usually prepare for the worst. The weather can produce an emotion-based response in how people shop and what they shop for. Businesses, however, must have a logical response to the weather. They must provide the products and services their customers need based off whatever the weather forecast is. The best way to understand how their business could be affected by the mere threat of a major storm like a hurricane is by including Weathernomics in their higher order strategic planning.