All coastal residents and those who vacation here during hurricane season should know these hurricane facts.
Hurricanes are incredibly strong and dangerous tropical storms. The hurricane season begins on June 1st and is finally over on November 30th. To be classified as a hurricane, the winds must be sustained at 74 miles per hour or greater.
Hurricanes begin to form over very warm waters, usually off of the coast of western Africa or in the Caribbean. The storms drift off to the west and gain strength and momentum from the warm tropical waters. Moist air is pulled toward the center of the storm and a spiral is created. Once the spiral effect occurs, the storm begins to suck up huge amounts of water. The only way that a hurricane will weaken is by wind shear, drifting into cooler waters or coming into contact with land.
The hurricane scale breaks these violent storms down into five hurricane categories.
• Category 1
A Category 1 hurricane is one that will produce winds between 74 and 95 mph. The storm surge expected will be between four and five feet. Minimal damage to the area will be expected.
• Category 2
Category 2 storms will have winds between 96 and 110 mph. The storm surge expected will be between six and eight feet. Moderate damage will be expected.
• Category 3
A Category 3 hurricane is quite strong and has winds sustained between 111 and 130 mph. The storm surge will be high at nine to twelve feet. Category 3 storms will produce serious damage. Once at this level, it becomes a major storm.
• Category 4
A Category 4 storm is really dangerous. They will have sustained winds between 131 and 155 mph. A storm surge of between thirteen and fifteen feet will occur. There will be devastating damage to the area.
• Category 5
A Category 5 hurricane is the worst classification of storms. The sustained winds will be over 156 miles per hour. A storm surge of over eighteen feet will occur. The damage to the area will be catastrophic.
If a hurricane watch is issued for your area, you should begin preparations to safeguard your home and loved ones. These are some suggestions:
• Constantly monitor a weather channel to keep abreast of any changes regarding the storm.
• Fuel up all of your vehicles in case you need to evacuate. Some people will only put gas in the one they plan to take only to find that car doesn’t start when needed. It is best to prepare for the worst case scenario.
• Go to the pharmacy and refill any prescriptions that you might need within two weeks.
• Go to the bank and withdraw cash. ATMs and credit card machines may not be working after the storm.
• Review evacuation routes and find out where shelters will be opening up, if need be.
A Hurricane warning means that a storm is expected to be in your area within 24 hours. This is the time for you to step up your preparedness and enact a full scale hurricane plan. Take any hurricane warning very seriously.
• Monitor the weather predictions for your area. Pay close attention in case an evacuation is encouraged or mandatory.
• Load your vehicle with the necessities in case an evacuation order is issued.
• If an evacuation order is issued, leave immediately and without any hesitation. Either go to a shelter or seek safety farther away. The earlier that you leave, the less crowded the roads will be. Do not underestimate how crowded highways can get if there is a major evacuation.
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