Facts About Hurricanes

Ron Bryant

  Hurricanes gather heat & energy though contact with ocean water.  Evaporation from the seawater increases their power.  The combination of heat and moisture along with the right wind conditions can create a hurricane. Hurricanes are powerful storms that measure several hundred miles in diameter.  They have 2 main parts.  The first is the eye of the hurricane, which is a calm area in the center of the storm.  Usually the eye of a hurricane measures about 20 miles in diameter and has very few clouds.  The second part is the wall of clouds that surrounds the calm eye.  This is where the hurricane's strongest winds and heaviest rain occurs.
     Hurricanes rotate in a counter-clockwise direction around the “eye”.  They have winds at least 74 miles per hour.  When they come onto land, the heavy rain, strong winds, & heavy waves can damage buildings, cars, and trees.  The heavy waves are called a storm surge.  Storm surges are very dangerous and a major reason why you must stay away from the ocean during a hurricane warning or a hurricane.
      Hurricanes are classified into five categories, based on their wind speeds and potential to cause damage.  They are as follows;

One -       winds 75- 95 miles per hr.
Two -        winds 96- 110 miles per hr.
Three-       winds 111-130 miles per hr.
Four -       winds 131-155 miles per hr.
Five   -      winds greater than 155 miles per hr.

Important terms to know:

Hurricane watch- means a hurricane is possible within 36 hrs.  Stay tuned to the radio and television for more information.
Hurricane warning-A hurricane is expected within 24 hrs.  You may have to evacuate and make plans for pets.

Hurricane season occurs from June 1st to November 30th, but they can happen any time of the year.
Hurricanes are named by the National Weather Service. Some of the largest and well know hurricanes are as followed:

Hurricane Carla hit Texas coast, winds were 150 miles per hr.
(Sept. 10th, 1961)  $ 2 billion in damage.

Hurricane Betsy hit Florida and then turned and hit Louisiana;
(Sept.8th, 1965) winds were 160 miles per hr. Third most costly Hurricane in the U.S. $6.5 billion in damage.

Hurricane Camille Category 5 hurricane the most powerful rating;
(Aug.13th, 1969) winds were as high as 200 miles per hr.  It hit the Gulf Coast but caused flooding in Virginia. Fifth most costly $ 5.2 billion.                          

Hurricane Celia hit Texas- $ 1.4 billion in damage.
(Aug.3rd, 1970)

Hurricane Gilbert Category 5 - winds 160 miles per hr. hit Jamaica,
(Sept.16th, 1988)  then Mexico, and came to U.S. (Texas & Oklahoma) as heavy rain storms.

Hurricane Andrew hit Southern Florida, then turned and hit Louisiana.
(Aug.24th, 1992) Heavy rains and tornadoes were part of hurricanes.
Most expensive hurricane.

Hurricane Floyd North Carolina was hit the hardest.  (Sept. 1999)  It brought so much rain that 13 states were issued disaster declarations.  $500 million of federal money was spent helping states recover.

Hurricane Katrina was the eleventh named tropical storm, fifth hurricane, third major hurricane, and first Category 5 hurricane of the 2005 Atlantic hurricane season. It was the third most powerful storm of the season, and the sixth-strongest Atlantic hurricane ever recorded. Katrina formed over the Bahamas on August 23, 2005, and crossed southern Florida at Category 1 intensity before strengthening rapidly in the Gulf of Mexico, becoming the strongest hurricane ever recorded at that time in the Gulf. (Hurricane Rita broke this record later in the season.) The storm weakened considerably before making its second landfall as an extremely large Category 3 storm on the morning of August 29 along the Central Gulf Coast near Buras-Triumph, Louisiana.

The storm surge from Katrina caused catastrophic damage along the coastlines of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. Levees separating Lake Pontchartrain from New Orleans were breached by the surge, ultimately flooding about 80% of the city. Wind damage was reported well inland, impeding relief efforts. Katrina is estimated to be responsible for $75 billion in damages, making it the costliest hurricane in United States history; the storm has killed 1,418 people, becoming the deadliest U.S. hurricane since the 1928 Okeechobee Hurricane.