100 Interesting Facts About Hurricanes


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100 Interesting Facts About Hurricanes

  • Weather in the eye of a hurricane is usually calm.
  • Hurricanes can have a diameter of 600-800 kilometers.
  • Hurricanes kill more people than any other type of storm.
  • The eye of a hurricane can be anywhere from 2 miles (3.2 kilometers) in diameter to over 200 miles (320 kilometers) but they are usually around 30 miles (48 kilometers).
  • The winds around the eye of a hurricane are usually the strongest.
  • Hurricanes in the Pacific Ocean are known as typhoons.
  • In the Indian Ocean, they are typically known as tropical cyclones.
  • The year 1933 had the most named storms on record with 21. In 2005, that record was broken when the National Hurricane Center identified 28 storms. 1933 is now second, and 1995 is third with 19 tropical storms.
  • The National Hurricane Center was the first organization that started assigning ‘female’ names to the hurricanes in 1953.  However, they stopped this practice in 1978.
  • In 1979, men’s names were included on the list. The names are in alphabetical order, excluding the letters Q, U, X, Y and Z.
  • Today, the list includes English, Spanish and French names because these languages are most commonly used by the countries in the Atlantic Basin. There are six lists of names. Each list is used in rotation every six years.
  • Since all of the traditional names had been used for 2005, the last six named storms were called “Alpha,” “Beta,” “Gamma,” “Delta,” “Epsilon,” and “Zeta,” the first six letters of the Greek alphabet.
  • A huge hurricane can release energy equivalent to 10 atomic bombs per second.
  • Hurricanes also produce mild tornadoes, which can last up to a few minutes.
  • Hurricanes that move slowly are likely to produce more rains causing more damage by flooding than fast-moving hurricanes.
  • Hurricane Floyd, which was barely a category I hurricane, has destroyed 19 million trees and has caused damage of more than a billion dollars.
  • Many people die in hurricanes because of the rising seawater that enters the mainland, instantly killing people.
  • The year 2005 saw the most hurricanes ever to form in a single Atlantic season, with 15.
  • The least number of tropical storms happened in 1983 when
  • The first person to give names to hurricanes was a weather forecaster from Australia named C. Wragge in the 1900s.
  • Florida is hit by at least 40% of the hurricanes that occur in America.
  • Hurricanes are differentiated from tropical storms by their wind speeds. Tropical storms carry winds that travel 35-50 miles per hour. Hurricane’s wind speeds are double and travel for at least 74 miles per hour.
  • The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale defines hurricane strength by categories. Hurricanes are categorized into 5 types, depending upon their wind speed and their capacity to cause damage. The wind speed of the 5 categories is as follows.
  • A Category 1 storm is the weakest hurricane with winds having speeds between 74-95 mph; a Category 5 hurricane is the strongest with winds greater than 155 mph.
  • The deadliest hurricane is the category 4 hurricane that occurred in Texas and Galveston in the year 1990. 8000 people were found dead by the 15-foot waves, which carried winds traveling for 130 miles per hour.
  • It is believed that hurricanes have killed approximately 1.9 million people over the past 200 years.
  • The third ingredient is that of a saturated lapse rate gradient near the center of rotation of the storm. A saturated lapse rate ensures latent heat will be released at a maximum rate. Hurricanes are warm-core storms. The heat hurricanes generate is from the condensation of water vapor as it convectively rises around the eyewall. The lapse rate must be unstable around the eyewall to insure rising parcels of air will continue to rise and condense water vapor.
  • The fourth and one of the most important ingredients is that of low vertical wind shear, especially in the upper level of the atmosphere. Wind shear is a change in wind speed with height. Strong upper-level winds destroy the storm's structure by displacing the warm temperatures above the eye and limiting the vertical accent of air parcels. Hurricanes will not form when the upper-level winds are too strong.
  • Hurricanes mostly occur from June to November when seas are the warmest and most humid, forming conducive weather for the hurricanes to build up.
  • In the Atlantic Ocean, hurricanes begin from 1st June, and in the Pacific, they start in mid-May. Both end together towards the end of November.
  • An average hurricane season based on data from 1968 to 2003 brings 10.6 tropical storms. Six of those become hurricanes and two become major hurricanes, meaning category 3 or greater.
  • Planet Jupiter has a hurricane that appears as a red dot in it, spinning since 300 years. This hurricane is bigger than the earth itself.
  • Hurricanes are large enough to carry winds that travel for 160 miles per hour.
  • Stronger hurricanes can reach 40,000 to 50,000 feet up into the sky.
  • Hurricanes need Coriolis Force to form, which is very weak at the Equator, and this is the reason that they cannot form near the Equator.
  • The Southern Hemisphere typically experiences about half the number of hurricanes as the Northern Hemisphere each year.
  • A typical hurricane needs (a) light upper-level winds, (b) warm water (at-least 80º F) and (c) pre-existing conditions with thunderstorms to form.
  • Cape Verde-type hurricanes are those Atlantic basin tropical cyclones that develop into tropical storms fairly close (<1000km or so) to the Cape Verde Islands and then become hurricanes before reaching the Caribbean.
  • Other names for a hurricane include cyclone, typhoon and tropical storm.
  • While they are essentially the same thing, the different names usually indicate where the storm took place. Tropical storms that form in the Atlantic or Northeast Pacific (near the United States) are called hurricanes, those that form near in the Northwest Pacific (near Japan) are called typhoons and those that form in the South Pacific or Indian oceans are called cyclones.
  • Hurricanes usually form in tropical areas of the world.
  • Hurricanes develop over warm water and use it as an energy source.
  • Hurricanes lose strength as they move over land.
  • Coastal regions are most at danger from hurricanes.
  • As well as violent winds and heavy rain, hurricanes can also create tornadoes, high waves, and widespread flooding.
  • 90% of the deaths that occur during hurricanes is because of the floods created by this disaster.
  • A hurricane that occurred in Bangladesh in 1970 took away the lives of one million people. This hurricane is supposedly the worst tornado, in terms of loss of life.
  • The winds in the hurricane can cause above 2 million trillion gallons of rains per day.
  • In years with an El Niño, fewer tropical storms and hurricanes appear because vertical shear increases during El Niño years. The vertical shear can prevent tropical cyclones from forming and becoming intense.
  • In years with La Niña (opposite of El Niño), researchers have found that there are chances of an increased number of hurricanes and an increased chance that the United States and the Caribbean will experience hurricanes.
  • Hurricanes upon entering the land bring in strong winds, heavy rains and waves which are strong enough to cause damages like washing away the entire cityscape. These are known as storm surge.
  • Most of the category 5 hurricanes occurred in the years 2000-2009, with eight. These include Isabelle (2003), Ivan (2004), Emily (2005), Katrina (2005), Rita (2005), Wilma (2005), Dean (2007), and Felix (2007).
  • The first hurricane of the year is given a name beginning with the letter “A.”
  • Hurricanes are named because it’s much easier to remember the name of a storm than using latitude and longitude. The tracking becomes easy. It also helps prevent confusion when there is more than one tropical storm or hurricane occurring at the same time.
  • A name is retired when the storm caused so many deaths or so much destruction that it becomes insensitive to use the name again. The World Meteorological Organization is in charge of retiring hurricane names and choosing new names.
  • The headline-making hurricanes of 2004 — Charley, Frances, Ivan and Jeanne have all been retired. They will be replaced by Colin, Fiona, Igor, and Julia when the list is used again.
  • The names of costliest hurricanes include Katrina, Maria, Irma, Harvey, Sandy and Andrew.
  • Hurricane Katrina is one of the costliest category 5 type hurricanes, which has caused damage over $100 billion.
  • It is a myth that opening windows will help equalize pressure in your house when a hurricane approaches. Your windows should be boarded up with plywood or shutters. If your windows remain open, it will just bring a lot of rain into your house and flying debris into your home, too. Don’t waste time taping your windows, either. It won’t help prevent hurricane damage.
  • 2020 Atlantic hurricane season activity is projected to be extremely active, according to the team at Colorado State University (CSU) with 24 named storms (including the nine named storms that already formed as of July 4), 12 hurricanes, and 5 major hurricanes, with above-normal probability for major hurricanes making landfall along the continental United States coastline and in the Caribbean.
  • The term ‘hurricane’ is derived from Taino Native American word ‘hurucane,’ which means the evil spirit of the wind.
  • The first hurricane that caused people to fly in it occurred in 1943 during World War II.
  • A tropical storm is a hurricane that travels for 74 miles per hour or higher than that.
  • Hurricanes are the only weather disasters, each of them having its own name.
  • Hurricanes are first formed in a warm moisture atmosphere by swirling above tropical ocean water.
  • The center of the hurricane, which is the ‘Eye,’ can be as huge as 32 kilometers. The weather in this center (the eye) is usually calm with low winds.
  • The ‘Eye Wall’ is the ring of clouds and thunderstorms occurring closely around the eye. This experiences the most terrible hurricanes with extremely heavy rains.
  • The first condition is that ocean waters must be above 26 degrees Celsius (79 degrees Fahrenheit). Below this threshold temperature, hurricanes will not form or will weaken rapidly once they move over the water below this threshold. Ocean temperatures in the tropical East Pacific and the tropical Atlantic routinely surpass this threshold.
  • The second ingredient is the distance from the equator. Without the spin of the earth and the resulting Coriolis force, hurricanes would not form. Since the Coriolis force is at a maximum at the poles and a minimum at the equator, hurricanes can not form within 5 degrees latitude of the equator. The Coriolis force generates a counterclockwise spin to low pressure in the Northern Hemisphere and a clockwise spin to low pressure in the Southern Hemisphere.

  • The fifth ingredient is high relative humidity values from the surface to the mid-levels of the atmosphere. Dry air in the mid-levels of the atmosphere impedes hurricane development in two ways. First, dry air causes the evaporation of liquid water. Since evaporation is a cooling process, it reduces the warm core structure of the hurricane and limits the vertical development of convection. Second, dry air in the mid-levels can create what is known as a trade wind inversion. This inversion is similar to sinking air in a high-pressure system. The trade wind inversion produces a layer of warm temperatures and dryness in the mid-levels of the atmosphere due to the sinking and adiabatic warming of the mid-level air. This inhibits deep convection and produces a stable lapse rate.
  • The sixth ingredient is that of a tropical wave. Often hurricanes in the Atlantic begin as a thunderstorm complex that moves off the coast of Africa. It becomes what is known as a mid-tropospheric wave. If this wave encounters favorable conditions such as stated in the first five ingredients, it will amplify and evolve into a tropical storm or hurricane. Hurricanes in the East Pacific can develop by a mid-tropospheric wave or by what is known as a monsoonal trough.
  • Hurricanes are regions of low atmospheric pressure (also known as depression).
  • The wind flow of hurricanes in the southern hemisphere is clockwise while the wind flow of hurricanes in the northern hemisphere is counterclockwise.
  • Hurricanes can be tracked by weather satellites and weather radar closer to land.
  • Hurricanes have led to the death of around 2 million people over the last 200 years.
  • The 1970 Bhola Cyclone that struck Bangladesh killed over 300000 people.
  • In 2005 Hurricane Katrina killed over 1800 people in the United States and caused around $80 billion dollars worth of property damage. The city of New Orleans was hit particularly hard with levee breaches leading to around 80% of the city being flooded.
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