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Hurricane Preparedness and Safety

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With hurricane season fast approaching, it’s important to prepare for them. Preparing for an emergency begins with understanding the dynamics of the disaster.

When preparing for a disaster, survival, or emergency, it’s not just about preparing for the supplies that you and your family need. It’s about understanding the situation and the effect that it can have on you.

Until you have the basic knowledge of what can happen in a survival or disaster situation, you will not be able to understand the type of prepping that you will need to do. This article will give you a background on hurricanes so that you can begin to prepare for the upcoming season. Having the knowledge to be well-informed on what you can anticipate from hurricanes.

What is a hurricane?

Hurricanes are large rotating storms that form over warm tropical waters. Hurricanes are categorized as storms that have sustained winds of at least 74 mph (119kph) and the winds can reach as high as 157 mph or higher. These storms can produce high-speed winds and heavy rain bands.

How are they formed?

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Hurricanes don’t just magically appear, they start as tropical disturbances moving westward off the African coast. A tropical disturbance will develop into a tropical depression with the right weather conditions. This begins with warm waters, organized winds, and moisture in the lower and upper atmosphere. This gives the fuel and space needed for the depression to spin into a cyclone.

As the pressure in the center of the depression drops, the air will rush in creating strong winds. If the winds go above 39 miles per hour, it becomes a tropical storm. When there isn’t much wind shear while the tropical storm is moving over a warm region of water, it causes the storm to intensify because the center pressure continues to drop creating stronger winds and a more developed eye.

The main ingredient needed to form hurricanes is warm ocean water, this is what provides the energy needed for a storm to form into a hurricane. When you mix this with unchanging wind speed and direction, you have the formula needed for a tropical cyclone. The longer it is separated from its source of energy(the warm water of the ocean and moist air) the weaker it becomes.

Parts of hurricanes

The center of the hurricane is known as the eye which is the most peaceful and calm part. Hence, why you always hear the calm before the storm. The outside of the eye where the heaviest rain bands are located, known as the eyewall, is the most dangerous part of the hurricane. Winds can reach speeds of 155 miles per hour. Around the eyewall, storm surges can form causing a great deal of flooding, which is a major contributor to the danger of hurricanes.

If a new eye is formed to replace the old eye, it is called the eyewall replacement cycle. During this phase, the hurricane can strengthen and intensify just before landfall causing severe damage. This has been the reason some of the most damaging hurricanes developed.

Where are they located?

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 Hurricanes originate in the Atlantic basin, (this consists of the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, and the Gulf of Mexico), the eastern North Pacific Ocean, and the central North Pacific Ocean. These hurricanes occur between June 1st and November 30th (the season).

How are they categorized?

As previously mentioned, a tropical storm is considered a hurricane once it has winds with a sustained speed of 74 miles per hour. Anything less than 40 miles per hour, the storm is considered a tropical depression.

Hurricanes have 5 categories according to the Saffir-Simpson hurricane wind scale rating based on their sustained wind speed as follows :

Category 1- 74 to 95 mph

Category 2- 96 to 110 mph

Category 3- 111 to 129 mph

Category 4-130 to 156 mph

Category 5-157 or higher mph

Keep in mind that hurricanes can create severe damages even at a Category 1 or 2 because of the storm surges, flooding, and tornadoes.

Once hurricanes reach a category 3, it is considered a major storm and there is more potential for loss of life and greater property damage.

How are hurricanes named?

How do these potentially catastrophic storms get their names? After a tropical depression develops into a tropical storm, it is assigned a name based on an alphabetical list of names. This list is maintained by the World Meteorological Organization.

Names are assigned as the storms begin to appear because there can be more than one at a time and it is a way to track these storms.

There are 6 lists of names that are recycled and reused every 6 years. When hurricanes that are severe with great damage the name is often retired and another name is assigned to take its place. Boy and girl names are alternated on the list of names.

*Interesting fact: The letters Q, U, X, Y, and Z are not used as first letters of the names of hurricanes.

Dangers caused by hurricanes

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The high wind speeds sustained with these storms can cause severe damage to homes and land. When hurricanes make landfall, storm surges, flooding, and tornadoes can create a destructive force of nature that you should be prepared for.

As the eyewall passes over land the greatest damage from the winds can be expected. Hurricanes can span over an area of 600 miles, reaching as high as 9 miles in height, of pure storm clouds. Fierce winds creating massive storm surges that are as high as 20 feet extending over 93 miles.

Weather forecasters try to predict and gauge the anticipated area where hurricanes will land as well the intensity of the storm to help people prepare for the storm.

Unfortunately, there are times when the storm strengthens unexpectedly or shifts directions, which is why everyone should prepare not just for one storm but for the season.

Conclusion

Whenever disaster strikes, we need to be prepared. Hurricanes can grow into deadly storms that can destroy buildings and rip trees from the ground.

Weather forecasters try to predict and gauge the anticipated area where hurricanes will land as well the intensity of the storm to help people prepare for the storm.

Unfortunately, there are times when the storm strengthens unexpectedly or shifts directions, which is why everyone should prepare not just for one storm but for the season.

The more informed you are the more prepared you can be. When Noah built and prepared the Ark, it wasn’t raining. So to prepare for the season, there doesn’t need to be a storm.

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