Asbell 1Ashley AsbellMs. TilleryA.P. Literature18 November 2011 Hurricanes Winds greater than 200 miles per hour, whole cities flooded within a few hours, familiestorn apart and forced to start their lives over again: these are just a few of the things left behindafter a hurricane has made landfall. As one of the most destructive weather related phenomenon,hurricanes are also one of the most complex forms to understand. How and where they form,what research is being done, and what to do in the occasion that a hurricane makes landfall areall important facts to know when dealing with hurricanes. First off, what is a hurricane? A hurricane is a “large counter-clockwise rotating columnof air that can reach up to two hundred miles per hour and is accompanied by heavy rain, strongwinds, and damaging waves” (“Environmental and Occupational Safety”). Hurricanes can onlyform in warm waters, which is why their season usually begins in June and lasts until the end ofNovember. The first recorded hurricane was in 1851 and since then, over two thousand tropicalstorms and hurricanes have been recorded in the Atlantic Basin (National Hurricane Center). Before a storm can be classified as a hurricane, it goes through four stages. First, atropical disturbance, or, a system of thunderstorms that forms in the tropics and stays intact formore than twenty-four hours, is produced. Sometimes tropical disturbances start as tropical (oreasterly) waves, which are areas of low pressure that are embedded in the tropical easterly winds.As the wind speed picks up and the low-pressure system develops a circulating area of windaround it, the disturbance turns into a tropical depression. If the wind speed reaches thirty-nine
Asbell 2miles per hour then the low-pressure area is classified as a tropical storm and it receives a name.Once here the storm can do one of two things, further increase in strength into a categorizedhurricane or fizzle into nothing (Allaby, 57). As mentioned before, hurricanes are named once they reach tropical storm status, butwhat goes into naming these storms? Since 1953, The World Meteorological Organization hasnamed cyclones from a handful of generated lists that they recycle every six years. Up until1979, the lists only used women’s name, but now they alternate between genders. The WorldMeteorological Organization decided to use names instead of numbers or other identifiersbecause names are easier for the media to report on and the general population to remember. Ifone year there is a storm that procures too much damage, in cost or lives, then the name is retiredand replaced by one on standby (“Tropical Cyclone Naming”). The Saffir-Simpson Scale categorizes hurricanes. This scale classifies hurricanes into fivegroups based on wind speed and amount of damage. Category One hurricanes have sustainedwinds between seventy-four and ninety-five miles per hour with little to no damage. Once thewinds reach between ninety-six and one hundred and ten miles per hour, the storm reaches aCategory Two status and extensive winds will likely follow. Devastating damage accompanieswind speeds from one hundred and eleven to one hundred and thirty miles per hour with aCategory Three hurricane. Category Four storms bring wind speeds between one hundred andthirty one and one hundred and fifty five miles per hour along with catastrophic damage. Allother storms with wind speeds of one hundred and fifty five miles per hour or above signal aCategory Five hurricane that entails calamitous damage, or in other words, no one and nothing issafe (National Hurricane Center). Some of the most destructive hurricanes since the 1900s have left many lives in a mess.
Asbell 3The most expensive hurricane known to date was Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Katrina sweptthrough the Gulf of Mexico, breaking the levies of New Orleans and costing the United Statesaround $108 billion and over 1,000 lives. Although Katrina cost the United States a great deal ofmoney, the most devastating hurricane to hit the United States hit Galveston, Texas in 1900,killing over 10,000 people (The Weather Channel). While hurricanes greatly affect the UnitedStates, they have also devastated many other countries. In 1938, New England was hit by ahurricane that caused over $300 million in damage and took six hundred lives. The worsthurricane, in context of death toll, to hit a country outside of the United States was the hurricanethat hit Bangladesh in 1970 that took close to half a million lives. That hurricane took the mostlives of any hurricane ever recorded in history (“Hurricanes”). As stated earlier, hurricanes do not only affect the United States but other countriesaround the world as well. To these different countries, they are known under other names such astyphoons and cyclones. While they are given other names, these three all mean the same thing:destruction. The northwestern Pacific refers to these storms as typhoons. Places such as Japan,the Philippines, and Eastern China experience heavy rainfall, high tides, and landslides betweenMay and October (Hafner, James). Storms that originate in the Indian Ocean are known asCyclones. This area experiences the longest storm season, from April to December, but theeffects are still the same. Once a storm has been spotted forming in the ocean, many people begin working. Agroup known as the Hurricane Hunters track hurricanes and gather information on them. TheWeather Channel is a great resource for people to use to monitor the storm’s path and how strongit is. They gather information from the many forecasters, such as the Geophysical FluidDynamics Laboratory, the Tropical Prediction Center, and the National Weather Service and
Asbell 4Association. These groups, along with many others, keep a constant watch on the churning warmocean waters and use data to predict the paths of the oncoming storms. For the most part, thepredicted paths are very similar, but every once in a while a storm will throw a few of them offand a common path will not be determined. A recent hurricane that illustrated this phenomenonof forecasters that were unable to agree was Hurricane Rita. Two well-known hurricaneprediction centers predicted two very different paths for Rita and within a week, they hadcompletely switched their predictions. Due to this, more research is still being done to eliminate,or at least, lessen this problem. Many organizations are actively at work researching hurricanes. Organizations such asThe Weather Channel, Hurricane Hunters, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration(NASA), the National Weather Service (NWS), and the National Oceanic and AtmosphericAdministration (NOAA) are all big leaders in hurricane research. They study current and pasthurricanes to find out more information on these magnificent beasts and how to possibly be moreprepared for them in the future. NASA is currently preparing for an investigation set to launcheach summer for three years. They will collect information on Atlantic hurricane formations andintensity change (Jenner). When there is a Hurricane headed towards land, whether the storm is just a tropicaldepression or a category five hurricane, there is a possibility for damage and as a precaution,everyone should evacuate. Before evacuating, collect any lightweight items from outside thatcould easily be picked up by the wind and bring them inside the house. Board up windows anddoors before leaving to protect ones home from flying debris. After everything is safe andsecure, make sure to check with the local authorities along with informational organizations suchas the NWS or the NOAA for important information regarding the storms. Most coastal areas
Asbell 5that are at risk of being hit by a hurricane have pre-marked evacuation routes. Families shouldgather up their personal belongings and follow those routes to safer places. If there were some reason one cannot get out of town, then making a safety kit would bea good thing to do. Some necessary supplies to have incorporated in the kit include items suchas: gallon water jugs, nonperishable and easy to prepare food, flashlights, a battery powered orhand crank radio, extra batteries, a First aid kit, a multipurpose tool, and sanitation and personalhygiene items. Another good idea would be to carry other items such as: copies of personaldocuments, cell phone with chargers, family and emergency contact information, extra money,extra clothing, rain gear, a camera for photos of damage, and medications/medical items in casethere is a large amount of damage. Families can also seek out local shelters that their cities mighthave or talk to local authorities of what to do (American Red Cross). After a hurricane devastates an area, institutes, such as the Federal EmergencyManagement Agency (FEMA) and the American Red Cross are the first on scene to pick up thepieces of the town or city (Fitzpatrick 259-295). Following Hurricane Katrina, over $126 milliondollars was raised by various groups for hurricane victims. This money, along with countlesssupplies, was donated by people from all over the Unites States and other countries around theworld. After a disaster of this caliber, people of all demographics seem to come together to helptheir fellow brothers and sisters in their time of need. Hurricanes: their brute force can wipe out a city in a matter of hours. These storms cannotbe stopped, but many associations are working to understand them and possibly make it so thatpeople know much more about them; when and where a hurricane is going to hit along with whatthe intensity of the storm is and what possible damage there could be. With this information,families could be prevented from unnecessarily leaving their homes behind and the United States
Asbell 6as a whole would be safer from these forces of nature.
Asbell 7 Works CitedAllaby, Michael. Hurricanes. 1997. New York City, New York: Facts On File, INC, 2003. Print. Dangerous Weather.American Red Cross. The American National Red Cross, 2011. Web. 17 Oct. 2011.“Environmental and Occupational Safety.” Valdosta State University. 2010. Web. 12 Nov. 2011. <http://www.valdosta.edu/finadmin/safety/WhatisaHurricane.shtml>.Fitzpatrick, Patrick J. Hurricanes. 2nd ed. 1999. Santa Barbara, California: ABC-CLIO, Inc., 2006. Print.Hafner, James. “Typhoons.” Encyclopedia of Modern Asia. Ed. Karen Christensen and David Levinson. 6 vols. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 2003. 19-20. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 16 Nov. 2011.“Hurricanes.” Environmental Science: In Context. Ed. Brenda Wilmoth Lerner and K Lee Lerner. 2 vols. Detroit: Gale, Cengage Learning, 2009. 430-436. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 12 Nov. 2011.Jenner, Lynn, ed. NASA. 14 Oct. 2011. Web. 17 Oct. 2011. <http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/hurricanes/main/index.html>.National Hurricane Center. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Weather Service, 3 Nov. 2011. Web. 12 Nov. 2011. <http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/>.“Tropical Cyclone Naming.” World Meteorological Organization. Web. 12 Nov. 2011. <http://www.wmo.int/pages/prog/www/tcp/Storm-naming.html>.The Weather Channel. Web. 8 Nov. 2011. <http://www.weather.com/weather/hurricanecentral/>.