What are Hurricanes?

According to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), “Hurricanes are large, swirling storms. They produce winds of 119 kilometers per hour (74 mph) or higher. That’s faster than a cheetah, the fastest animal on land. Winds from a hurricane can damage buildings and trees”.

Hurricanes are formed over warm ocean waters and they can sometimes strike on land. If a hurricane strikes the land, it forces a wall of ocean water away from the ocean to the land. This wall of ocean is referred to as a storm surge. Such a storm surge from hurricane with or without a heavy rainfall can cause flooding.

Categories of Hurricane

Basically, there are five categories of hurricanes. These categories are categorized based on their wind speed as recorded by the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale.

Category 1 hurricane: Very dangerous winds, produces mild damage

The category 1 hurricane has a wind speed ranging between 74 and 95 mph. This speed is enough to strike people, animals, pets, and mobile home could as well be destroyed. Homes with protected glass windows will survive this category of hurricane without any major damage. Other frame homes and shops may suffer a mild damage and snapped power lines could cause a short-term power outage.

Previous events
1. 2008 Hurricane Dolly that whipped through southern Texas
2. 2012 Hurricane Sandy of Jamaica which became weakened before it reached the east coast of America.

Category 2 hurricane: Extremely dangerous winds, causes extensive damage

The category 2 hurricane has a wind speed ranging between 96 and 110mph. This poses a bigger risk of injury or even death to humans, animal and pets. It may likely affect both the older and newer mobile homes. Apartment buildings, frame homes, and shopping centers may experience a major roof and siding damage, and many trees may be uprooted. Hurricane category 2 can cause power outage for a considerable number of days.

Previous event:
1. 2004 hurricane Frances that hit the west coast of Florida
2. Category 3 hurricane: Devastating damage will occur

Category 3 hurricane: Aggressively dangerous winds, causes severe damage

The category 3 hurricane has a wind speed of between 111 to 129 mph. This is enough to cause injury or death to people, animals, and pets. Almost all older mobile homes will be destroyed and the new ones may not escape. In fact, well-built homes and industrial buildings may also suffer a significant damage and larger trees may be uprooted. Water and Electricity may be completely unavailable for weeks.

Previous events
1. 2005 hurricane Wilma that reaches Florida’s coast
2. Hurricane Katrina that hit Louisiana
3. Hurricane Irma started has a category 3 hurricane before escalating to category 5, the second strongest Atlantic hurricane known!

Category 4 hurricane: Catastrophic damage will occur

The category 4 hurricanes have a wind speed of between 130 to 156 mph. The falling and flying debris at this high wind speed carries a huge risk and can cause severe damage or death to people, livestock, and pets. Just like the previous, older mobile homes and even newer ones will be destroyed. Some frame home may collapse totally while well-built houses may experience severe damage to their roofs. Apartment houses can also experience severe damages to their upper floors.

Furthermore, the category 4 hurricanes will destroy most windows of high buildings, uproot larger trees, and destroy power lines. In the end, it can make the affected area totally inaccessible and inhabitable for weeks.

Previous events
1. August 2017 hurricane Harvey in Texas

Category 5 hurricane: Catastrophic damage will occur

The category 5 hurricane is the highest hurricane category known with a wind speed as high as 157 mph and above. Of course, people, livestock, and pets are at a higher risk of danger. If not all, most mobile homes will be destroyed and a higher percentage of frame homes will be affected. Commercial buildings with roofs made of wood will suffer severe damage while those made of metal may collapse. Tall buildings may also have their windows blown out! Generally, people should expect a long-term water and power outage.

Previous events
1. 1992 hurricane Andrew in Florida
2. 1969 hurricane Camille
3. 1935 “Labor Day” hurricane

Images of Hurricane Destruction

hurricane harvey
Hurricane Harvey
hurricane irma
hurricane irma
hurricane sandy
hurricane sandy

References:
https://www.nasa.gov/audience/forstudents/k-4/stories/nasa-knows/what-are-hurricanes-k4.html
http://www.noaanews.noaa.gov/stories2013/20130411_sandynameretiredt.html