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What Is A Hurricane?

what is a hurricane

How Do Hurricanes Start?

Hurricanes generally start out as a low pressure system somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean, usually near the equator.  They are most common during the summer months, when the ocean has become warmer.  Although the hurricane season for the Eastern United States is officially runs from June to November, most hurricanes occur during August and September.  The warm air over the ocean pulls up huge quantities of moisture from the heated ocean, and soon the familiar rotation begins.  Until the wind speed reaches 75 miles per hour, the disturbance will only be considered a tropical storm, but once that speed has been reached, the storm is officially a hurricane. 

Why Is A Hurricane So Dangerous?

Hurricanes are dangerous because of several factors.  To begin with, the winds can reach higher than 175 miles per hour, and these winds, combined with the rotational movement, can spawn tornadoes.  Winds of this velocity can knock down power lines, trees, and sometimes buildings.  If a tornado occurs, the potential for damage increases.

Heavy rains accompany a hurricane, and even inland regions can experience flooding as a result of these rains.  Sometimes 6 or more inches of rain can fall within hours, and once the capacity of the ground to absorb water has been reached, the water will begin to run overland.  Erosion can occur anywhere and lower-lying areas can be flooded.  Wells can be contaminated and septic systems can back up, causing more disruption and inconvenience.

Those living on the coast will be in danger of the storm surge that accompanies a hurricane.  This is a wall of water that is driven in front of the main storm.  Storm surges are almost like miniature tidal waves and can be up to 25 feet high.  The weight of the water and strength of the storm will assure that the maximum damage will occur with these waves.  Most of the fatalities associated with hurricanes come from the storm surge.

What You Can Do To Be Ready For A Hurricane

If you live in a coastal area that is subject to destruction by hurricanes, the best thing you can do is to have a viable evacuation plan ready.  You should keep your car’s gas tank topped off at all times, and know exactly what route you will follow if you have to evacuate.  Keep extra road maps in the car and in the house. first aid kit should be kept where it will be easily accessible if you need to leave in a hurry, and prescription medicine, food, and safe water should be handy.Emergency food and water supply for your family is very important to have in times of emergency. Have everyone in the family understand where they should go in case of evacuation, and if you have pets, make sure that you have made provision for them, too.

Living inland can protect you from the worst of the hurricane’s damage, but you may still have to deal with loss of electric power.  A good supply of clean water and food will help you ‘weather’ a hurricane’s disruptions, and be sure to have flashlights and first aid supplies on hand.