Understanding Hurricanes

Hurricane season starts on June 1st and ends on November 30th.

What does Sustained Winds mean? Winds lasting one minute on average and measured at approximately 33 feet(10 meters) above the earth surface.

What is a knot(kt)? 1 knot is equal to 1 nautical mile per hour or 1.15mph.

What is a hurricane? A hurricane is a tropical cyclone or a revolving tropical storm with sustained wind speeds of 74mph (64 knots) or greater.  Accompanied by thunderstorms, hurricanes revolve in a counterclockwise motion around a low pressure vortex or “eye” near the earth’s surface.

What is the eye? A hurricane’s vortex, better known as the ‘eye’, is the calm area near the center of the cyclone, which may last several minutes or up to an hour when passing over any given area.

Are there any other Tropical Cyclones?

  • Tropical Depressions - A circular system of organized thunderstorms and clouds with maximum sustained winds of 38 mph (33 knots) or less.
  • Tropical Storms - A tropical depression becomes a tropical storm when winds reach 39 mph (34 knots) and are sustained up to 73 mph (63 knots).

What causes Tropical Cyclones? Tropical storms and hurricanes are caused by a combination of warm tropical oceans, light winds and moisture along with a pre-existing weather disturbance.

What do the different category numbers mean? According to the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale:

  • CATEGORY (1)     74 – 95 mph winds
  • CATEGORY (2)     96 – 100 mph winds
  • CATEGORY (3)     111 – 130 mph winds
  • CATEGORY (4)     131 – 155 mph winds
  • CATEGORY  (5)     156 = mph winds

What is a Storm surge? A rise in sea level; caused when the wind’s force pushes water toward the shore.

What is the difference between a hurricane alert, a hurricane watch and a hurricane warning?

  • Hurricane Alert – An alert is generally issued when a hurricane poses a possible threat to your area, but is more than 36 hours away.
  • Hurricane Watch - Once a hurricane watch is issued,  this means that the threat of hurricane conditions is between 24 and 36  hours away.
  • Hurricane Warning - When hurricane conditions are expected within 24 hours or less, a hurricane warning is issued.
  • All Clear – The all clear is given when the storm has left the area but caution should prevail.

Jennifer Valerie is a vegetarian, homeschooling mom of two boys ages 6 & 7, stay at home pastor’s wife and Sunday School teacher of young adults ages 19 – 35. She blogs, tweets, and retweets about marriage, food storage, emergency preparedness, healthy living, her life and more. Visit her website at JenniferValerie.com.

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