1.) Hurricanes are large, spiraling tropical storms that can pack wind speeds of over 160 mph and unleash more than 2.4 trillion gallons of rain a day.
2.) Tornadoes have more intense winds than hurricanes. For example, the fastest recorded hurricane wind speed is approximately 200 mph. Tornado winds can be up to 300 mph.
3.) Terms “hurricane,” “typhoon,” and “cyclone” are different names for the same type of storm, a tropical cyclone. Tropical cyclones that occur in the Atlantic Ocean or eastern Pacific Ocean are called hurricanes; in the western Pacific Ocean they are called typhoons (from the Cantonese word tai-fun); and in the Indian Ocean and the Bay of Bengal, tropical cyclones are called cyclones (from the Greek word for “coiled snake”). In Australia, hurricanes are called “willy-willies.”
4.) The deadliest U.S. hurricane on record was a Category 4 storm that hit the island city of Galveston, Texas, on Sept. 8, 1900. Some 8,000 people lost their lives when the island was destroyed by 15-ft waves and 130-mph winds.
5.) 88% of all US deaths related to hurricanes or tropical storms are caused by water NOT wind. Flooding and storm surge are two of the biggest factors!
6.) Though the eye is the calmest part of the storm, over the ocean, it can be the most dangerous area. While waves in the eye wall travel in the same direction, waves in the eye converge from all directions, which often creates rogue waves.
7.) Over 1/3 of cat and dog owners don’t have a disaster preparedness plan in place for their animals. Help neighbors and friends come up with a hurricane plan for their pets.
8.) Water must be a certain depth for hurricanes to form, at least 200 feet (60 m). Additionally, the water must be warm, over 80º F (27 º C). A hurricane’s strength depends on how warm the water is—the warmer the water, the stronger the hurricane becomes.
9.) Since pilots first began flying into typhoons and hurricanes in 1944, only four planes have been lost in the storms. No trace of these planes or their crew has ever been found.
10.) A tropical storm is classified as a hurricane when sustained winds reach 74 miles per hour, though hurricane winds are often faster. When a tropical cyclone’s sustained wind speed is between 39-74 mph, it is classified as a tropical storm. When its winds are less than 38 mph, a tropical cyclone is called a tropical depression.
11.) For a hurricane to form, there needs to be (1) a pre-existing condition disturbance with thunderstorms, (2) warm water (at least 80 º F) to a depth of 150 ft., and (3) light upper-level winds.
12.) Each year, approximately 10 tropical storms form over the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, and Gulf of Mexico. Out of these, six become hurricanes.
13.) Approximately five hurricanes strike the U.S. coastline during an average three-year period. Of these, two are major hurricanes over 110 mph.
14.) Project Storm-fury was an organization that tried to control hurricanes by seeding them with silver iodide, which would cool the hurricanes. However, the project had little success, and most scientists now have abandoned the idea of controlling hurricanes.
15.) Hurricane Andrew’s (1992) outer rain bands extended 100 miles from the center. In contrast, Hurricane Gilbert’s (1988) stretched over 500 miles.
16.) Hurricanes can last for weeks, but most hurricanes typically last approximately 10 days.
17.) During the 20th century, 158 hurricanes of all categories hit the U.S. Most hurricanes hit Florida (57), with Texas coming in second with 26. Louisiana and North Carolina each had 25.
18.) Hurricanes kill more people than any other type of storm.
19.) In the Atlantic, hurricane season starts June 1, while in the Pacific it starts May 15. Both end on November 30.
20.) When they come onto land, the heavy rain, strong winds and heavy waves can damage buildings, trees and cars. The heavy waves are called a storm surge.
21.) There were 5 major hurricanes that made landfall in the US between the beginning of 2004 and the end of 2005. All were a category 3 or greater!
22.) Typical hurricanes are about 300 miles wide although they can vary considerably in size.
23.) The eye at a hurricane’s center is a relatively calm, clear area approximately 20-40 miles across.
24.) The eyewall surrounding the eye is composed of dense clouds that contain the highest winds in the storm.
25.) The storm’s outer rain bands (often with hurricane or tropical storm-force winds) are made up of dense bands of thunderstorms ranging from a few miles to tens of miles wide and 50 to 300 miles long.
26.) Hurricane-force winds can extend outward to about 25 miles in a small hurricane and to more than 150 miles for a large one. Tropical storm-force winds can stretch out as far as 300 miles from center of a large hurricane.
27.) Frequently, the right side of a hurricane is the most dangerous in terms of storm surge, winds, and tornadoes.
28.) A hurricane’s speed and path depend on complex ocean and atmospheric interactions, including the presence or absence of other weather patterns. This complexity of the flow makes it very difficult to predict the speed and direction of a hurricane.
29.) Do not focus on the eye or the track-hurricanes are immense systems that can move in complex patterns that are difficult to predict. Be prepared for changes in size, intensity, speed and direction.
30.) It is a common misconception that opening all the windows in a house during a hurricane will equalize the pressure in the house, so the windows won’t explode. Experts argue, however, that opening the windows will only weaken the house by allowing more wind, rain, and debris to fly in.