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What is a Hurricane?

A hurricane is a form of tropical cyclone or severe tropical storm that occur in eastern Pacific Ocean,  Caribbean Sea, southern Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico. All coastal areas around Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic are prone to hurricanes. Tropical cyclones have low thunderstorm activity and rotate counterclockwise. When the winds of a tropical cyclone is less than 38 mph, it is called a tropical depression. When the winds reach between 39-73 mph, it is classified as a tropical storm. However, when the winds exceeds 74 mph, it is classified as hurricane. Below are some interesting facts about hurricanes.

Fact 1: The term hurricane is derived from ‘Taino’, a Native American word which means evil spirit of the wind.

Fact 2: The first hurricane that caused people to fly in it, occurred in 1943 during world war II.

Fact 3: A tropical storm is a hurricane which travels for 74 miles per hour, or higher than that.

Fact 4: Hurricanes are weather disasters, each of them having its own name.

Fact 5: Hurricanes are first formed in warm moisture atmosphere by swirling above tropical ocean water.

Fact 6: The eye wall experiences the most terrible hurricanes with extremely heavy rains. This place is the ring of clouds and thunderstorms occur around the eye.

Fact 7: A huge hurricane can release energy equivalent to 10 atomic bombs per second.

Fact 8: Hurricanes also produce mild tornadoes, which can last up to few minutes.

Fact 9: Hurricanes that move slowly are likely to produce more rains causing more damage by flooding, than fast moving hurricanes.

Fact 10: Hurricane Floyd has destroyed 19 million trees and has caused damage of more than a million dollars.

Fact 11: Many people die in hurricanes because of the rising sea water walls that enter the mainland instantly killing people.

Fact 12: Hurricanes in the Pacific Ocean are known as typhoons.

Fact 13: In Indian Ocean they are typically known tropical cyclones.

Fact 14: The first person to give names to hurricanes was a weather forecaster from Australia named C. Wragge in 1900s.

Fact 15: The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale defines hurricane strength by categories. A Category 1 storm is the weakest hurricane with winds having speed between 74-95 mph; a Category 5 hurricane is the strongest with winds greater than 155 mph.

Fact 16: Hurricanes mostly occur from June to November when seas are the warmest, forming a conducive weather for the hurricanes to build up.

Fact 17: Planet Jupiter has a hurricanewhich appears as a red dot in it, spinning since 300 years. This hurricane is bigger than the earth itself.

Fact 18: Hurricanes are large enough to carry winds that travel for 160 miles per hour.

Fact 19: Hurricanes can have a diameter of 600-800 kilometers.

Fact 20: The center of the hurricane, which is the eye, can be as huge a 32 kilometers. The weather in this center (the eye) is usually calm with low winds.

Fact 21: 90% of the deaths that occur during hurricanes is because of the floods created by this disaster.

Fact 22: A hurricane that occurred in Bangladesh in 1970, took away the live of one million people. This hurricane is supposedly the worst tornado, in terms of loss of life.

Fact 23: The winds in the hurricane can cause above 2 millions trillion gallons of rains per day.

Fact 24: In the Atlantic Ocean, hurricanes begin from 1st June, and in the pacific they start in mid may. Both end together towards the end of November.

Fact 25: Hurricanes, upon entering land bring in strong winds, heavy rains and waves which are strong enough to cause damages like washing away the entire city scape. These are known as storm surge.

Fact 26: Florida is hit by at least 40% of the hurricanes that occur in America.

Fact 27: Hurricanes are differentiated from tropical storms by their wind speeds.. Tropical storms carry winds which travel 35-50 miles per hour. Hurricaneswind speeds are double and travel for at least 74 miles per hour.

Fact 28: Hurricanes are categorized into 5 types, depending upon their wind speed and their capacity to cause damage. The wind speed of the 5 categories are as follows.

Category 1-     74 to 95 miles per hour

Category 2-     96-110 miles per hour

Category 3-     111-130 miles per hour

Category 4-      131-155 miles per hour

Category 5-      Most dangerous. Above 155 miles per hour.

Fact 29: The National Hurricane Center was the first organisation to give ‘female’ names to the hurricanes in 1953.  However, they stopped this practice in 1978.

Fact 30: Huge and destructive hurricanes have retired names like Katrina, Mitch and Andrew

Fact 31: Hurricane Katrina is one of the costliest category 5 type hurricane which has caused damage over $100 billion.

Fact 32: The deadliest hurricane is the category 4 hurricane that occurred in Texas and Galveston in the year 1990. 8000 people were found dead by the 15 foot waves which carried winds travelling for 130 miles per hour.

Fact 33: It is believed that hurricanes have killed approximately 1.9 million people over the past 200 years.

Fact 34: Most of the category 5 hurricanes occurred in years 2000-2009, with eight. These include Isabelle (2003), Ivan (2004), Emily (2005), Katrina (2005), Rita (2005), Wilma (2005), Dean (2007), and Felix (2007).

Fact 35: Stronger hurricanes can reach 40,000 to 50,000 feet up into the sky.

Fact 36: Hurricanes need Coriolis Force to form which is very weak at Equator and this is the reason that they can not form near Equator.

Fact 37: The Southern Hemisphere typically experiences about half the number of hurricanes as the Northern Hemisphere each year.

Fact 38: The year 2005 saw the most hurricanes ever to form in a single Atlantic season, with 15.

Fact 39: A typical hurricane needs (a) light upper level winds, (b) warm water (at-least 80º F) and (c) pre-existing conditions with thunderstorms to form.

Fact 40: Hurricanes kill more people than any other type of storm.

Hurricanes are natural disasters and unfortunately cannot be controlled by man. However, we can prepare ourselves for future precautions to safeguard ourselves against such calamities, although this is remotely possible.


The Hurricane Scale

When you hear a weather anchor talking about a hurricane being in a category from 1 to 5, he or she is referring to the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale. It is a scale that group hurricanes by their wind speed. And from the wind speed, meteorologists can use it to determine the potential damage a hurricane can do. It was first used in hurricane advisories in 1975.

Category 1: 74-95 MPH

  • Minimal damage
  • No major damage to properly built structures
  • Damage to unanchored shrubs and trees
  • Evacuations maybe ordered for areas immediately adjacent to water.

Category 2: 96-100 MPH

  • Moderate damage
  • Some roof, door and window damage to buildings
  • Considerable damages to shrubs and trees with some trees being blown down.
  • Coastal and low lying areas flood 2 to 4 hours before arrival of the hurricane's center.
  • Evacuations maybe ordered for areas near the water.

Category 3: 111-130 MPH

  • Extensive damage
  • Structural damage to residences is likely.
  • Damage to shrubs and trees with foliage blown off. Large trees are blown down.
  • Mobile homes and signs are destroyed.
  • Low lying areas flood 3 to 5 hours before arrival of the hurricane's center.
  • Small structures near coast are destroyed with larger structures being heavily damaged.
  • Evacuations will be likely ordered for areas prone to storm-surge flooding.

Category 4: 131-155 MPH

  • Extreme damage
  • Complete roofs blown off some residences. Extensive exterior damages to large buildings.
  • Shrubs, trees and all signs are blown down.
  • Complete destruction of mobile homes.
  • Major damage to lower floors of structures near the store.
  • Some coastal buildings maybe washed away.
  • Evacuations will be likely ordered for areas prone to storm-surge flooding.

Category 5: Higher than 155 MPH

  • Catastrophic damage
  • Complete roof failure on many residences and prefabricated buildings.
  • Extensive damage to exposed glass on all large buildings.
  • Some complete building failures.
  • All shrubs, trees and signs are blown down.
  • Complete destruction of mobile homes.
  • Total destruction of all structures near the shoreline.



National Weather

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