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What to Do When You Know a Hurricane is Coming Soon

Many areas in the United States of America are susceptible to hurricanes during certain times of the year. Hurricanes are massive, swelling storms that create winds that are 74 miles per hour or higher. Winds from hurricanes are likely to cause damage to buildings and trees. In extreme cases, hurricanes can cause injury or death. Hurricanes form in water, but sometimes they can hit land. When a hurricane reaches a landmass, it can push a wall of water ashore, which is known as a storm surge. Storm surges can cause flooding.

Types of Hurricanes

There are five different categories of hurricane:

Category 1: 74-95 mph winds

Category 2: 96-110 mph winds

Category 3: 111-129 mph winds

Category 4: 130-156 mph winds

Category 5: 157 mph or higher winds

This categorization system is known as the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale.

How Do Hurricanes Form?

Hurricanes start out as a tropical disturbance. This is when storm clouds begin to form on the ocean. Sometimes, a disturbance can transform into a tropical depression. In a depression, the thunderstorm begins to rotate at speeds of 38 miles per hour or less. This can then turn into a tropical storm if wind speeds increase past 38 miles, and then subsequently, it will turn into a hurricane if wind speeds reach 74 mph.

Scientists still do not agree on why exactly it is that hurricanes form. However, there is a consensus that two things are required to get a hurricane going. Firstly, there needs to be warm water – typically the ocean needs to be at around 26 degrees Celsius or higher. There also needs to be a consistent wind that does not change much in speed or direction.

How to Tell if a Hurricane is Coming

Many telltale signs offer an early warning that a storm is coming. Around 72 hours before a hurricane hits land, you will be able to see an increased amount of ocean swell from the shore. During this time, waves will be breaking against the shore roughly once every nine seconds. The ocean will begin to swell to around two meters in height. As the hurricane begins to travel closer to land, you will be able to notice the swell beginning to grow in height, as well as the waves breaking against the coast more frequently.

Before a hurricane comes, there will be a noticeable drop in barometric pressure. This change can be noticed approximately 36 hours before a hurricane is due to hit land. Some people find that drops in barometric pressure can result in conditions like arthritis being aggravated, as well as causing headaches in some people. However, there is no conclusive evidence to support this. The best way to detect a drop in pressure is to consult a barometer.

Wind speed will start to increase when a hurricane is getting close to land significantly. 36 hours before the hurricane hits, you may notice that winds speeds have increased to around 11 mph. About an hour before the hurricane is due to hit land, the wind speeds can increase to speeds as fast as 104 mph. At this stage, the wind can start to do damage, such as trees being uprooted or roofing being torn from houses.

You will also notice heavy rainfall in the hours before a hurricane reaches land. Rain will typically start 18 hours before the storm starts. The rain will progressively get heavier and heavier until it turns into a continual downpour. There is a significant risk of flooding in low-lying areas at this stage.

Hurricane Warnings

By far, the best way to see a hurricane coming early on is to pay heed to hurricane warnings from the National Weather Service. There are a few types of alerts relating to hurricanes which may be issued by the Weather Service. Firstly, there are Hurricane Watches — this means that conditions are right for a hurricane to form. It implies that one might develop shortly. However, it is not to say that a hurricane is imminent. If a hurricane watch is issued, you should make sure that you and your family are prepared. You should not only prepare your home, but you should also be prepared if an evacuation order is put into place. When a watch is issued, it is possible that it will develop into a hurricane warning within the next 48 hours or so.

A hurricane warning is much more significant. This means that a storm is imminent and calls for immediate action to protect you and your family. You should have an emergency kit that you can easily access for when one of these warnings is given. You should then immediately head to safety.

Speak to us about protecting your home from hurricanes: 239-274-2700