Understanding Hurricanes: Safety in Education and Preparation

“Hurricanes are the most awesome, violent storms on Earth,” NASA once said. With damaging winds, deadly storm surge, and up to 100 lateral miles of rainfall, hurricanes are definitely a force to be reckoned with.

Hurricane season begins on June 1 and ends on November 30, according to the National Weather Service. As hurricane season approaches, it’s important to stay informed and to be ready for the possibility of severe weather in coastal areas. Education and preparation can make an incredible difference when disaster strikes.

Hurricanes need two primary ingredients to form: heat and wind. Warm, damp air over the ocean fuels a hurricane’s rotation when the air rises and cooler air rushes in to take its place. As this cycle continues, wind speeds increase until a tropical storm forms. Once the tropical storm’s winds reach 74 mph, the storm becomes a hurricane — which will continue to rotate and suck up sea water at a rate of up to 2 billion tons per day.

A hurricane is categorized by its wind speed using the following scale:

  • Category 1: 74-95 mph winds
  • Category 2: 96-110 mph winds
  • Category 3: 111-130 mph winds
  • Category 4: 131-155 mph winds
  • Category 5: 155+ mph winds

When a hurricane makes landfall, it generally loses power as it moves inland and loses the strength it gained from the warm ocean water. However, storm surge — which National Geographic estimates accounts for 90% of hurricane fatalities — usually accompanies a hurricane as it approaches the coast. Storm surge occurs when hurricane winds send water above the shoreline, rising up to 20 feet and rushing inland up to 100 miles.

If you find yourself in the path of a hurricane, the National Weather Service recommends boarding your windows, listening to weather updates, and following instructions — including evacuation orders — from local officials. If you do not evacuate, take shelter in the interior-most room of your home and stay clear of windows, skylights, and glass doors.

Throughout Hurricane Preparedness Week, and in preparation for all types of disasters that occur year-round, Convoy of Hope remains equipped to respond. With your help, we can provide hope in every storm.

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