What is a "major" hurricane?
What is the difference between a major hurricane and other weather nasties like a tropical storm?? What makes a hurricane a "major" hurricane?
A major hurricane - also called a Typhoon, or even Cyclone, depending upon which part of the world you live in - is a reference to the velocity of the winds that surround its actual lowest air pressure point. Winds flow into a cyclone much like water going down a bath's plug hole. The nearer the winds get to the lowest pressure area the more they speed up. Near the centre they can be circling at hundreds of miles per hour.
At the very center is 'eye' of the hurricane, there is a calm spot, the winds rotating around that spot. As that spot moves, so does the rest of the storm.
A tropical storm can be a mini-cyclone or hurricane. You often see these as a water-spout. Or they could be simply a cold front (cold air mass) under-cutting a warm air mass. The warm air is thrown upwards to form cumulo-nimbus (thunderhead clouds) You can get strong winds from the up and down drafts of such clouds, thus creating the strong winds at both upper and ground levels.
But back to hurricanes. If the areas of high pressure are extensive, the more air there is to funnel into the eye. To reiterate, storms are generally measured by the intensity of the winds within them, so too, are hurricanes...as far as I know.
The answer to that question can make a difference in how you might prepare for one.
Major hurricanes are among the strongest of storms and it's generally a bad idea to be in the way of one. That might mean learning more about what the meteorologists mean when they classify a hurricane as a major one.
The Saffir-Simpson scale is used to measure hurricane strength based mostly on wind speed and is a measurement of the strength of a hurricane. Categories 3, 4, and 5 are considered major hurricanes.
Category 1 Hurricane: Sustained wind speeds are between 74 and 95 mph (119-153 km/h). It can cause damage to the roofs, vinyl siding and gutters of well-constructed homes, knock out power lines, knock down branches and uproot narrowly rooted trees.
Category 2 Hurricane: Sustained wind speeds are between 96 and 110 mph (154-177 km/h). Well-constructed homes may suffer more serious damage including damage to rooftops and siding. Trees can be snapped or uprooted and block roads. Expect major power outages that lasts several days to weeks.
Category 3 Hurricane: Sustained wind speeds are between 111 and 129 mph (178-208 km/h). Homes will be damaged, including missing rooftops and gable ends. Several trees will likely be toppled and block roads or do more damage to structures. Power will be out for several days to weeks.
Category 4 Hurricane: Sustained wind speeds are between 130 and 156 mph (209-251 km/h). The affected area will likely be uninhabitable for weeks or months. Homes will be seriously damaged with loss of rooftops and walls. Most trees will be downed along with power lines that can isolate areas. Power will be out for weeks or months.
Category 5 Hurricane: Sustained winds are above 157 mph (252 km/h). Many homes will be destroyed. Trees will be uprooted. Power lines are downed and can isolate areas. The affected area can be uninhabitable for weeks or months.
If you are in the path of a major hurricane, your best bet is to get out of the area. If you can't get out in time and become trapped by downed power lines or trees, you can't count on help getting to you quickly.
You should have a plan for evacuation and for recouping after losing your home to a hurricane. Sometimes that might mean relocating to a place that's less prone to serious storms, though no place is ever 100% immune to the harshness of Mother Nature.
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