Hurricanes, Cyclones, Typhoons & High Winds
Hurricanes are violent tropical storms with sustained winds of at least 74 miles per hour. Hurricanes begin as tropical depressions over the ocean: in the Caribbean Sea, the southern Atlantic Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico, or the eastern Pacific Ocean. Similar storms that form in other locations are called cyclones or typhoons, though they are basically the same. Warm ocean water in the vicinity of the storm evaporates quickly and is pulled into the storm, causing the clouds to grow and the wind to become faster. The warmer the water, the stronger the hurricane.
Why De We Have Hurricanes?
A major hurricane is the most violent sustained force of nature. With winds that can exceed 155 miles per hour, torrential rain, storm surges and waves up to 20 feet high, the hurricane’s power is enormous, and should never be underestimated. North America is the hurricane center of the world. Every year numerous storms develop in the Southern Atlantic Ocean and make their way northwest through the Caribbean Sea, usually growing stronger as they travel. They begin as clusters of thunderstorms with moderate winds. Those that grow stronger tend to develop a spiral pattern. When the wind becomes sufficiently strong a weather system is classified as a Tropical Storm and named. The storm will keep its name whether or not it develops into a hurricane, as long as it remains a threat.
As the storm moves closer to the North American mainland, meteorologists scramble to predict its path. This is no easy matter, and by no means an exact science. Wind patterns, water temperatures, and many other factors can affect the strength and direction of the storm.
Preparing for Hurricanes
A hurricane is categorized by the strength of its sustained winds, using the Saffir-Simpson scale from 1 to 5. Category 1 is the least destructive. A Category 5 hurricane has 250 times the destructive power of a Category 1 hurricane. But no matter how they are classified, all hurricanes pose threats to life and property. Every hurricane is unique, but all of them bring strong winds and heavy rains.
Hurricanes always rotate counter-clockwise around a small area of relatively still air known as the “eye.” The force of the wind generates high waves and heavy rain which are very dangerous to ships and offshore oil drilling platforms. When the hurricane reaches land, the waves, rain, and winds can cause severe damage to buildings, cars, boats, trees and anything else in their path. The greatest area of danger is in low-lying areas near the oceanfront. As the hurricane moves inland, the biggest threats are high winds (sometimes including tornadoes) and flooding from heavy rain.
In summary, hurricane dangers include storm surges, high winds, tornadoes, and flooding. If you live in a hurricane-prone area, it is important to have a family emergency plan that includes all of these hazards.
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