Hurricanes & Glossary of Terms:
Hurricanes are dangerous tropical cyclones. Their winds reach a constant speed of at least 74 mph, but may gust up to 200 mph. Hurricanes can cover several hundred miles, and can generate torrential rains and tornadoes. The eye of the hurricane is misleadingly calm; tricking people into thinking the storm is over. However, when the eye passes over your area, only half the storm has passed; the rest is yet to come. The wind will return suddenly from the opposite direction, perhaps with even greater force. The most dangerous part of a hurricane is the storm surge, which has the greatest potential for hurricane-related deaths. This dome of water forms in the middle of the hurricane as it moves over the ocean, and can reach 10 to 20 feet above normal sea level. At shoreline, this mountain of water, aided by huge breaking waves, acts like a bulldozer, razing everything in its path. It can knock down single-family homes and cause erosion under major buildings. Heavy rains can flood low-lying areas.
For information regarding evacuation zones and emergency shelters, tune in to your local television and radio stations, call your local Red Cross or your county's Emergency Management Office.
Glossary of Terms
- Storm: categorized by its circular wind intensity. Storms circulate clockwise in the southern hemisphere and counterclockwise in the northern.
- Tropical Wave: A cluster of clouds and/or thunderstorms with little or no circulation* or strong wind.
- Tropical Depression: An organized system of clouds and/or thunderstorms with some circulation at surface, highest winds less than 39 mph.
- Tropical Storm: An organized system of strong thunderstorms with stronger circulation; highest wind speed 39-73 mph. These storms can quickly accelerate when they reach tropical storm strength and become hurricanes. Storms are named when they reach tropical storm strength.
- Tropical Storm Watch: Tropical storm conditions, including winds of 39-73 mph, pose a possible threat to the area within 36 hours.
- Tropical Storm Warning: Tropical storm conditions are expected within 24 hours.
- Hurricane: Very strong, pronounced circulation; winds of 74 mph or more.
- Hurricane Watch: Hurricane conditions are a real possibility for the area usually within 36 hours.
- Hurricane Warning: Hurricane conditions are expected within 24 hours.