Hurricanes have an arsenal of effects that can destroy property and cause loss of life. The combination of animal pest removal water and wind can have devastating impacts on nature and man. Learn what these deadly features can do and how to survive them.
Storm Tides and Waves
Storm surge is simply the rise in water which floods the coast as water is pushed onshore by strong winds, and to a much lesser degree very low pressure. It’s important that you be aware of the tides of the coastal area where you’re located. For example, many places on the Gulf coast have very small tidal ranges, whereas places on the U.S. east coast have large tidal ranges. It makes a substantial difference on the impacts to the shore if a hurricane moves ashore through a low or high tide in a location where the tidal range is large. Today, inland flooding causes the largest loss of life. Before, when hurricane forecasting technology was not as complicated, storm surge was the reason for the majority of deaths. It is best to leave a structure that could be impacted by the storm wave of a hurricane. The force from sea water is very powerful and can destroy a house easily. High waves carry the debris from destroyed buildings which are on the coast that batter other structures further inland. Houses built on stilts have a much greater survivability from surge damage. Even so, it’s wise not to “ride out” a hurricane and evacuate to a safer location.
Hurricanes produce strong sustained winds that have the capability of destroying structures and toppling trees and power lines. The Saffir-Simpson hurricane scale provides an estimate on the type of wind damage that can be expected with different categories of hurricanes. A significant hurricane is considered a class 3 or higher. Strong winds can blow off in garage doors, break windows, or lift roofs off of homes. Be certain that you have shutters or plywood to cover windows properly during a hurricane. Also, know how structurally sound your roof and garage doors are so that they will not fail in the event of high winds. The safest place to stay is in the basement to protect you and your loved ones from high winds. If you are in a flood zone, then evacuate to higher ground. If you don’t have a basement, find a small room on the lowest floor with no windows near the center of the house to stay.
Tornadoes are many times associated with land falling tropical cyclones. The tornadoes usually occur in outer rain bands in the right front quadrant with respect to storm movement. Most of the tornadoes occur within 24 hours of land fall, even though it’s potential for tornadoes to still occur two or three days later still connected with the circulation. The largest hurricane associated tornado outbreak on record occurred with Hurricane Ivan in 2004 with 123 tornadoes. Other hurricanes that generated a significant tornado outbreak were: Hurricane Buelah (115), Hurricane Frances (103) and Hurricane Rita (101) tornadoes. Contrary to their Midwest cousins, tornadoes on average are poorer in hurricanes. There is typically a poorer signature on radar and hail almost never accompanies them. Stronger land falling hurricanes have a greater potential to create tornadoes than weaker ones. Tornadoes occur with land falling hurricanes as the storm moves over land and encounters greater low level friction from the property. This slows the wind at the surface greater than higher aloft, adding to vertical wind shear. It’s this increase in wind shear that sets up an environment favorable for tornado development.
All hurricanes do not produce severe flooding. There are several factors that contribute to the flood potential of a hurricane or weaker tropical cyclone. The most important factor is the rate of motion. It’s possible for the tropical cyclone to be nearly stationary for days resulting in very heavy rainfall amounts of 40 to 50 inches or more. Rainfall amounts are also affected by the terrain of a location. Mountains cause an additional lift to occur, enhancing rainfall rates on the windward slopes. The surrounding environment where the hurricane forms is another consideration. If a hurricane forms in the deep tropics, it generally can tap a deeper source of heavy layered moisture. Hurricanes which form in higher latitudes have a greater prospect of entraining dry air from mid latitude weather systems limiting moisture. When a tropical cyclone is coming, understand the potential for heavy rainfall to produce flooding or flash flooding where you live.
Summary The best way to endure the effects of a hurricane is by staying informed. For more on how to prepare before a storm strikes, check Tropicalweather.net’s article on hurricane preparedness.