When hurricane season approaches, we start hearing and seeing more and more about hurricane preparedness, but what makes these storms so powerful and destructive? Hurricanes possess the ability to cause utter mayhem, leaving millions homeless or worse, dead. They are known to cause extensive damage along the coastlines and the areas several hundred miles inward susceptible to the mercy of these great storms.
How do they get this way? Where does this power come from? How do you measure it? That’s what we’re going to answer and much more. The more we can research and understand about these powerful displays of mother nature, the better prepared we can be when it chooses to strike next.
When the wind speed of a tropical storm is less than 38 mph, it is referred to as a tropical depression. When the winds reach a speed of 39-73 mph, it is classified as a tropical storm. When the winds exceed 74 mph it is then classified as a hurricane.
The term “hurricane” is derived from “Taino”, a Native American word which means evil spirit of the wind.
During the months of June through November, the seas are at their warmest, allowing the favorable weather hurricanes need to from.
Hurricanes typically form in tropical areas around the world. Developing over warm water, hurricanes use this as an energy source to gain strength and momentum.
Hurricanes are referred to by many names including cyclone, typhoon and tropical storm.
While they all essentially mean the same thing, the use of different names indicates where the storm took place. Tropical storms that form and escalate to hurricane status in the Atlantic or Northeast Pacific (near the United States) are called hurricanes. Those that form in the Northwest Pacific (near Japan) are called typhoons. The use of the word cyclone or typhoon is indicative of storms that have formed in the South Pacific or Indian Oceans.
Hurricanes are categorized into 5 types, depending on their wind speed and their capacity to inflict damage. This is referred to as the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale. The five categories are as follows:
Category 1 – 74 to 95 mph
Category 2 – 96 to 110 mph
Category 3 – 111 to 130 mph
Category 4 – 131 to 155 mph
Category 5 – Above 155 mph
Once they break landfall, hurricanes lose a considerable amount of strength.
Alongside turbulent winds and heavy rains, hurricanes have been known to produce tornadoes, high waves and widespread flooding.
The direction of the wind flow in hurricanes in the southern hemisphere is clockwise while the wind flow of storms in the northern hemisphere is counterclockwise.
Weather in the eye of the hurricane is generally calm. However, the winds on the outside of the eye are typically the strongest and most destructive.
A large hurricane can release energy equivalent to 10 atomic bombs.
90% of the deaths that occur during hurricanes is due to the flooding created by the heavy rains.
Florida is his by at least 40% of the hurricanes that occur in America.
The first person to give names to hurricanes was an Australian weather forecaster named C. Wragge in the early 1900s.
Some the largest and most destructive hurricanes have had their names retired. Some of these are hurricanes Katrina, Mitch and Andrew.
The deadliest hurricane on record is the category four hurricane that hit Galveston, Texas in 1900. 8,000 people lost their lives due to the 15-foot waves and winds that blew in at more than 130 mph.
Most of the category five hurricanes on record happened in the years 2000-2009, with eight total hurricanes. These included hurricanes Isabelle in 2003, Ivan in 2004, Katrina in 2005 and Felix in 2007.