All About Hurricanes

Development of a Hurricane

Development of a Hurricane

If you are in hurry (because a hurricane is approaching) here is what you need to know:

  • move away from potential flood zones,
  • be aware of risks to your shelter from high winds (or even tornadoes),
  • fill the gas tank of your car (when power goes out, gas stations can’t pump),
  • have cash on hand  (when the power goes out, credit cards don’t work)
  • do what your government says (if that means evacuate, do it now, not later)
  • make sure you have family prescriptions in hand
  • plan ahead for pets or farm animals
  • fill the propane tank on your grill, get ice, stock up on water and nonperishable food,
  • be sure that you have a NOAA weather radio – they are relatively inexpensive and can be life-saving, and…
  • this isn’t very scientific (and I say this kindly) but it is accurate – don’t be a moron. Don’t assume because past hurricanes haven’t impacted you, or that you think you can “ride it out,” that you are immune to the power of a hurricane. You are not. If not for you, do it for the sake of your family and pets, prepare for a hurricane and when it is time to leave, leave. So, I repeat, don’t be a moron – you will thank me one day 🙂
Learn more about how to buy hurricane insurance.

OK… on with the details. Hurricanes are wondrous to look at. Huge billowing masses of clouds slowly spinning across the ocean. A lot of that beauty goes away when the hurricane gets close to where you live. Our hurricane web site is going to share hurricane safety information, tips and info. On our hurricane site we will discuss:

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More Hurricane Info For the Eastern US, a hurricane generally starts as an innocent puff of wind off the west coast of Africa. The wind soon develops as a thunderstorm. That thunderstorm grows as it is fueled by the warm, tropical ocean waters. Hurricanes (cyclones and typhoons – all the same) develop in warm, tropical regions where ocean water is at least 80 degrees Fahrenheit (27 degrees Celsius). This brew of energy and sea water provides warm, moist air as the wind mass converges with equatorial winds. As a hurricane grows, a low-pressure center appears in the relative calm – called the eye of a hurricane. If you recall the images of Hurricane Katrina, there was a massive eye in the middle of that very large hurricane. Surrounding the hurricane eye are the strongest winds in what is called the eye wall. It is here where the fury of the hurricane inflicts its heaviest damage. From the eye and eye wall, there are bands of thunderstorms that spiral outwards. These are called rain bands. The rain bands actually help promote the evaporation/condensation cycle that feeds the hurricane.

Slowly the hurricane spins, and moves, due to the spinning of the earth. The spinning rotation of a hurricane is due to the Coriolis force. The Coriolis force is a natural phenomenon that causes liquids and masses, like hurricanes, to rotate to the right of their destination in the Northern Hemisphere and to the left in the Southern Hemisphere. If you want to see the Coriolis force in action, go flush your toilet and watch which way the water spins. If you go to the Southern Hemisphere, it spins the opposite direction. It is the same with tornadoes. Read more at Ready.gov.

 

Let’s look at why that happens in a little more detail . . .

I couldn’t have said it better myself! Tropical Storm & Hurricane Levels Here are the levels of storms that lead to hurricanes, according to the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale:

  • Tropical Depression – a baby hurricane in the making. Fortunately, a very small percentage of tropical depressions ever reach “maturity” . . . tropical depressions have a maximum sustained surface wind speed of less than 38 mph
  • Tropical Storm – is the older brother of the tropical depression, things start to get that little bit stronger with maximum sustained surface wind speeds of between 39mph and 73mph
  • Cat 1 Hurricane – things are starting to get serious now, even with a category 1 hurricane, winds have gathered speeds of between 74 mph and 95 mph
  • Cat 2 Hurricane – with sustained surface wind speeds of between 96 and 110 mph, it’s certainly getting windy and serious damage can be expected
  • Cat 3 Hurricane – has sustained wind speeds of 111 mph to 130 mph, not to mention a storm surge which can be anywhere between 9 and 12 feet high with a category 3 hurricane.
  • Cat 4 Hurricane – the winds have reached speeds of between 131 mph and 155 mph for a hurricane to classified as category 4, and a storm surge of up to 18 feet high could be expected too.
  • Cat 5 Hurricane – when a hurricane reaches category 5 level then you know that you’re in for really big trouble, with wind speeds more than an incredible 155 mph and storm surges higher than an incredible 18 feet.
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