- Education and Science
Hurricanes: Everything You Need to Know About Hurricanes
What do you do when there is nowhere left to go, nowhere left to hide. You know it's coming and they say it's going to be bad. You cannot prevent it, you cannot control it. Fear sets in as reality hits. The reality that you are no longer in control of your life. You future is now controlled by the oncoming storm. You are now running on instinct and will do anything just to survive. You will do anything to protect your family. And although this storm is larger than all of your families strength combined. You put everything you've got into hope. A hope that there is a tomorrow.
What is a Hurricane?
By definition a hurricane is ": a tropical cyclone with winds of 74 miles (119 kilometers) per hour or greater that occurs especially in the western Atlantic, that is usually accompanied by rain, thunder, and lightning, and that sometimes moves into temperate latitudes." - Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary copyright © 2011 by Merriam-Webster, Incorporated
A hurricane is also known by a few other names. A tropical storm, a tropical cyclone, or a typhoon. Whatever you want to call it a hurricane is a massive storm with strong counterclockwise winds. Hurricanes are formed by low pressure systems and a large amount of thunderstorms all mixed into one. These tropical storms produce very strong winds and heavy downpours. Named "tropical storm" due to there location of attack the tropics such as the Northwest and Northeast Pacific, South Indian and North Indian Ocean, North Atlantic, and the Australia Southwest Pacific are the areas effected by hurricanes.
Hurricanes are put into categories (using theSaffir-Simpson scale) determined by their strength a category 1 being the weakest and a category 5 being the strongest. Because they are categorized by their strength and not by their damage. A category 1 can still be extremely devastating depending on the location of the tropical storm.
The term Hurricane is used for the most powerful of the tropical storms. As it is not given this name until the winds reach at least 74 mph (miles per hour). Lesser storms are termed "tropical storms" with wind speeds from 39-73 mph, and "tropical depressions" with wind speeds of 38 mph or less.
Many dangers are accompanied with hurricanes. Such as large, powerful waves called a storm surge. A storm surge can reach up to 20 feet or 6 meters high and be 100 miles long.This storm surge easily wipes out beaches and anything near the beaches. Strong winds causing damage to trees, buildings, cars and anything in the storm path. Heavy downpours resulting in flash floods wiping out homes and entire communities. As well as other dangers such as lightening, landslides, and even tornadoes are possible.
Hurricanes can form in mere hours or even take up to a week to build. Lasting on average for 9-12 days. This does not mean that a hurricane will be on land for a week or more. As they do begin to loose strength once they hit land or cooler waters.Luckily hurricanes are usually reported hours before the danger reaches your home. Giving homeowners some much needed time to evacuate before the storm reaches shore.
How Are Hurricanes Formed?
Hurricanes begin as tropical disturbances and under the right conditions can turn into a disaster. They occur when the oceans waters are very warm (at least 26.5 Celsius or 80 Fahrenheit). As low pressure systems travel over this warm ocean water they beginning picking up powerful energy from the ocean. All of this warm, moist ocean air is then turned into precipitation. The more warm ocean air the low pressure system picks up the more precipitation the storm produces eventually leading to torrential downpours.
As the low pressure system gains power it begins to spin counterclockwise around an area known as the eye. The eye of a hurricane is unbelievably calm and can be as large as 20-30 kilometers in diameter. Although calm, the eye of the storm can be very dangerous as it may lead people to believe that the hurricane has passed when in reality it has only reached a halfway point. Around this eye is what is known as the eye wall. This eye wall is the most dangerous part of the hurricane as it is the area of the hurricanes strongest winds and rain.
When is Hurricane Season
Hurricane season differs from region to region. For your safety if you are visiting these locations. It is best to visit when hurricanes are least likely to occur.
- The Atlantic Hurricane Season- June 1st to November 30th.
- The Atlantic Basin Hurricane Season- August to October.
- The Northeast Pacific Basin Hurricane Season- Late May to early November.
- The Northwest Pacific Basin Hurricane Season- Year round with the majority happening from July to November.
- The North Indian Basin Hurricane Season- April to December.
- The Southwest Indian Basin Hurricane Season- Late October to May.
- The Australian Basin Hurricane Season- Late October to May.
- The Australian Pacific Basin Hurricane Season- Late October to early May.
- The Southeast Pacific Basin Hurricane Season- Late October to early May.
How to Prepare for a Hurricane
Hurricane awareness is very important whether you are traveling somewhere where a hurricane may take place. Or you are living where this natural disaster tends to occur. Here are some steps to better prepare yourself and your family for a hurricane.
- Use common sense. Obviously you are putting yourself in great danger if you choose to go swimming when there just so happens to be hurricane warnings or even watches in effect.
- Choose somewhere safe. If you are not evacuating the area. Choose a safe place either in your home or another stable building. Choose a room that has no windows and is preferably in the center of the building.
- Stock up. Be prepared by stocking up on food and other supplies. Things like flashlights, candles, first aid kit, water, food, batteries, cash, and warm clothing. You never know when these items may be what saves your life.
- Supplies for your home. Have supplies on hand to better protect your home. Things such as plywood, screws, nails, and necessary tools will help better protect your home and family when in need.
- Prepare your yard. If you have large near by trees that are soon going to fall down. Get rid of them. These types of things in your yard can become deadly weapons in extreme wind.
- Have a boat and somewhere to put it. A boat may come in handy after a flash flood. But be sure that your boat is secure and will not go missing during these violent storms.
- Have an insurance policy.
- Listen to storm updates. Whether you are listening to the radio, watching tv, or checking on the Internet. Be well aware of the situation.
- Make a family plan. Go over with your family what everyone will do in the event of a hurricane or hurricane warning.
- Do not stay in your home if you live in a mobile home or RTM (ready to move home). In the event of a hurricane these homes may become severely damaged. And are not stable enough against hurricane winds.
- Stay away from windows and doors.
- Do not stay in upper levels. The higher you are in the air the more you will be effected by the storm.
- Be aware of the "eye" of the storm. The storm may not be over yet. Listen to updates so that you know when you are in the clear.
- Have a plan for your pets. Unfortunately most storm shelters will not allow pets unless needed due to a disability (eg. a seeing eye dog).
- Keep your vehicles fueled up and in good running condition. You do not want to be stranded because your car does not have enough fuel.
There are different types of weather alerts associated with hurricanes and it is best that you know what each of these mean.
Tropical Storm Watch - This announcement is made when the conditions for a tropical storm (39-73 mph winds) are favorable. There is a possibility of a tropical storm forming within the next 48 hours.
Tropical Storm Warning- This announcement is made when a tropical storm (39-73 mph winds) is expected for the area within the next 36 hours.
Hurricane Watch- This announcement is made when conditions are favorable for a hurricane (74+ mph winds). There is a possibility of a hurricane forming.
Hurricane Warning- This announcement is made when hurricane (74+ mph winds) are expected for your area.