August 24, 2017

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Hazards of a Hurricane

Hazards of a Hurricane

Hurricanes have been called "The Greatest Storms on Earth". This title is well earned, as these massive storms can be 600 miles across, pack winds from 74 mph to over 150 mph, and effect millions in their path. Hurricanes bring with them many threats. There are four primary hazards associated with a hurricane. They are storm surge, winds, tornadoes, and heavy rain.

Storm Surge

Historically, storm surge has been one of the most significant hazards associated with hurricanes. Storm surge is a large volume of ocean water that is driven ashore by a land falling hurricane or tropical storm. Storm surge is a rapid rise in sea level, accompanied by large battering waves. The surge is caused by strong onshore winds forcing the ocean level to rise up and flow inland. Storm surge effects coastal areas as well as canals, rivers, and other low lying areas near tidal bodies of water. Storm surge can destroy buildings, cut new inlets through barrier islands, and completely change the coastline.


The winds associated with hurricanes and strong tropical storms are another significant hazard associated with dangerous storms. Each hurricane and tropical storm is different. No matter what the strength of the hurricane, the winds are dangerous and precautions should be taken seriously. The strongest winds associated with a hurricane are usually found around the core surrounding the calm center of the eye. However, strong damaging winds associated with squalls can also be found in the outer fringes of the storm. Winds can turn outside objects, such as lawn chairs, into missiles of destruction and cause significant damage. Winds associated with a hurricane can be felt hundreds of miles from the center and well inland.


Tornadoes associated with hurricanes are caused by the numerous squalls and thunderstorms that make up the hurricane or tropical storm. Tornadoes in hurricanes and tropical storms can be hard to detect and develop with little warning and may be wrapped in rain making them almost impossible to see. They are more frequent in the outer fringes of the storm but can develop anywhere. Tornadoes can cause significant damage to buildings, power poles, and turn outside objects into deadly missiles.

Heavy Rain

Rainfall associated with hurricanes and tropical storms can cause significant flooding and damage. Recently more people have died as a result of inland flooding than any other hazard associated with hurricanes or tropical storms. Rainfall amounts over 15 inches can be expected during hurricanes and tropical storms. Flooding is the leading cause of damage to homes in the United States. Flooding associated with hurricanes and tropical storms can be felt for hundreds of miles inland.


Know Your Hurricane Categories

CATEGORY 1: Winds of 74 mph to 95 mph, 4-5 feet storm surge, and minimal damage.

CATEGORY 2: Winds from 96 mph to 110 mph, 6-8 feet storm surge, and moderate damage.

CATEGORY 3: Winds from 111 mph to 130 mph, 9-12 feet storm surge, and extensive damage.

CATEGORY 4: Winds from 131 mph to 155 mph, 13-18 feet storm surge, and extreme damage.

CATEGORY 5: Winds greater than 155 mph, 18 feet or higher storm surge, and catastrophic damage.

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