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Facts and Hurricane History

The Saffir Simpson wind scale measures Hurricane intensity The Saffir Simpson wind scale measures Hurricane intensity
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  • Emergency Contacts and Education Resources

    Emergency Contacts and Education Resources

    There are multiple local, state and federal agencies involved in preparing people for emergencies and offering educational resources. 

    There are multiple local, state and federal agencies involved in preparing people for emergencies and offering educational resources. 

  • Maps for Tracking and Planning

    Maps for Tracking and Planning

    Know where the storm is going and how to get out of its path with satellite images, tracking charts and evacuation maps. 

    Know where the storm is going and how to get out of its path with satellite images, tracking charts and evacuation maps. 

  • Disaster Planning Essentials

    Disaster Planning Essentials

    Avoid being caught off guard when a storm enters the Gulf of Mexico by having an emergency plan in place and supplies on hand.

    Avoid being caught off guard when a storm enters the Gulf of Mexico by having an emergency plan in place and supplies on hand.

  • Hurricane Safety Guide

    Hurricane Safety Guide

    KATC's Hurricane Safety Guide will get you prepared for what you need to know before the season starts, before a storm makes landfall, during a a storm and afterwards.

    KATC's Hurricane Safety Guide will get you prepared for what you need to know before the season starts, before a storm makes landfall, during a a storm and afterwards.

IMPORTANT TROPICAL TERMS

  • Tropical Cyclone - A general term used to describe a tropical depression, tropical storm, or hurricane.
  • Tropical Disturbance - A poorly organized cluster of thunderstorms that usually has no closed surface circulation.
  • Tropical Depression - A cluster of thunderstorms organized around a central circulation with surface winds of 38 mph or less.
  • Tropical Storm - A cluster of thunderstorms with a substantial rotary circulation and sustained winds of 39-73 mph. It is at this stage of development that the storm is assigned a name.
  • Hurricane - A severe tropical cyclone that is nature's most powerful storm, with sustained winds of 74 mph or greater.
  • Hurricane/Tropical Storm Watch - Hurricane or Tropical Storm conditions are possible in the watch area within 36 hours.
  • Hurricane/Tropical Storm Warning - Hurricane or Tropical Storm conditions are expected in the warning area within 24 hours.

WHAT IS A HURRICANE?

  • A hurricane is a fierce storm with strong winds rotating around a moving center of low atmospheric pressure. 
  • Hurricanes rotate counter-clockwise in the northern hemisphere. 
  • Maximum wind speeds must be 73 miles per hour or more. Once winds go below 73 miles per hour, it is a tropical storm. 
  • The word hurricane is regional -- applying to tropical cyclones in the north Atlantic Ocean, parts of the northeast Pacific Ocean and parts of the south Pacific Ocean. 
  • A typhoon is the same thing occurring in the northwest Pacific Ocean. 
  • Hurricane season lasts June 1 through November 30. It is rare, but hurricanes have formed in the Atlantic as early as March or as late as December.

WHERE DO THEY USUALLY HIT?

  • 36% of all U.S. hurricanes hit Florida. 
  • 76% of Category 4 or higher hurricanes hit Florida or Texas.

HOW MANY CATEGORY FOUR AND FIVE STORMS HAVE HIT?

  • Since 1900, just three Category 5 storms have hit the continental U.S. There have been 15 Category 4 storms in that time, including Hurricane Charley. 
  • The last time the U.S. was hit by two hurricanes of Category 4 or above in the same year was 1915. That year a Category 4 storm hit Galveston and another one hit New Orleans. 
  • Category 5 storms since 1900 (in order of intensity): 1) Unnamed storm hit Florida Keys in 1935, killing 408 people, 2) Hurricane Camille hit Mississippi in 1969, and 3) Hurricane Andrew hit southeast Florida in 1992.

HURRICANE CATEGORIES - The categories are determined by the Saffir-Simpson Scale.

CATEGORY ONE: winds 74-95 mph (64-82 kt or 119-153 km/hr). 

  • Storm surge 4-5 feet above normal. 
  • No real damage to buildings or structures. 
  • Shrubs, loose signs and unanchored mobile homes may sustain some damage. Coastal flooding is possible.

CATEGORY TWO: winds 96-110 mph (83-95 kt or 154-177 km/hr). 

  • Storm surge 6-8 feet above normal. 
  • Considerable damage to shrubbery and trees as well as to mobile homes, poorly constructed signs and piers. 
  • Coastal and low-lying escape routes flood 2-4 hours before arrival of the hurricane center. 
  • Example: Hurricane Bonnie hit the North Carolina coast in 1998.

CATEGORY THREE: winds 111-129 mph (96-112 kt or 178-208 km/hr). 

  • Storm surge generally 9-12 ft above normal. Some damage to small residences. 
  • Some large trees blown down. Some mobile homes and poorly constructed signs are destroyed. 
  • Flooding near the coast destroys smaller structures. 
  • Terrain lower than 5 ft above sea level may be flooded inland 8 miles (13 km) or more. 
  • Example: Hurricane Fran hit North Carolina in 1996.

CATEGORY FOUR: winds 130-156 mph (113-136 kt or 209-251 km/hr). 

  • Storm surge generally 13-18 ft above normal. 
  • Roofs destroyed on buildings and residences, Shrubs, trees, and signs blown down. Destruction of mobile homes. Extensive doors & window damage. 
  • Terrain lower than 10 ft above sea level may be flooded. 
  • Example: Hurricane Luis passed over the Leeward Islands in 1995.

CATEGORY FIVE: winds greater than 157 mph (137 kt or 252 km/hr). 

  • Storm surge generally greater than 18 ft above normal. 
  • Complete roof failure on many residences and industrial buildings. Some buildings completely destroyed. All shrubs, trees, and signs blown down.
  • Complete destruction of mobile homes. 
  • Major damage to lower floors of all structures located less than 15 ft above sea level and within 500 yards of the shoreline. 
  • Massive evacuation of residential areas on low ground within 5-10 miles (8-16 km) of the shoreline may be required. 
  • Example: Hurricane Andrew hit Florida in 1992.

(Source: Associated Press)


RELATED LINKS

Hurricane Center

Hurricane Safety Guide

Disaster Planning Essentials

Maps for Tracking and Planning

Facts and Hurricane History

Emergency Contacts and Education Resources

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