Hurricanes 101

September 6, 2008 3:02:01 PM PDT
Learn what is a hurricane, future hurricane names, and category number decisions.What is a hurricane?

From the National Hurricane Center:

The terms "hurricane" and "typhoon" are regionally specific names for a strong "tropical cyclone". A tropical cyclone is the generic term for a non-frontal synoptic scale low-pressure system over tropical or sub-tropical waters with organized convection (i.e. thunderstorm activity) and definite cyclonic surface wind circulation (Holland 1993).

How are hurricanes ranked?

From FEMA:

Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale

Scale Number/Category - 1
Sustained Winds: 74-95
Damage- Minimal: Unanchored mobile homes, vegetation and signs
Storm Surge - 4 to 5 feet

Scale Number/Category - 2
Sustained Winds: 96-110
Damage- Moderate: All mobile homes, roofs, small crafts, flooding
Storm Surge - 6 to 8 feet

Scale Number/Category - 3
Sustained Winds: 111-130
Damage- Extensive: Small buildings, low-lying
Storm Surge - 9 to 12 feet

Scale Number/Category - 4
Sustained Winds: 131-155
Damage- Extreme: Roofs destroyed, trees down, roads cut off, mobile homes destroyed
Storm Surge - 13 to 18 feet

Scale Number/Category - 5
Sustained Winds: More than 155
Damage- Catastrophic: Most buildings destoryed. Vegetation destroyed. Major roads cut off. Homes flooded.
Storm Surge - Greater than 18 feet.

Why are Hurricanes named?

From the National Hurricane Center:

Tropical cyclones are named to provide ease of communication between forecasters and the general public regarding forecasts, watches, and warnings. The Northeast Pacific basin tropical cyclones were named using women's names starting in 1959 for storms near Hawaii and in 1960 for the remainder of the Northeast Pacific basin. In 1978, both men's and women's names were utilized.

2008 Hurricane Names:

Arthur
Bertha
Cristobal
Dolly
Edouard
Fay
Gustav
Hanna
Ike
Josephine
Kyle
Laura
Marco
Nana
Omar
Paloma
Rene
Sally
Teddy
Vicky
Wilfred

FOR MORE HURRICANE INFORMATION:

FEMA

National Hurricane Center


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