Hurricanes are powerful.

Tropical places are hot and sunny in the summer.  The skies darken and storms sweep in from the sea, bringing fierce winds and lashing rain in the fall.   Depending on where you live, these storms are called a Tropical storm, tropical cyclones, typhoons or hurricanes.

The difference is:

  1. Tropical Cyclone occurs in the South Pacific or the Indian Ocean
  2. Typhoon occurs in the North Western Pacific Ocean
  3. Hurricanes occur in the Atlantic and the northeastern Pacific Ocean.
  4. Tropical storms have the rotation but do not show the distinct form as the ones above.

It all depends on the location.  So, does the rotation of the cyclone change if it is in the southern hemisphere vs. the northern hemisphere?  Yes, it does.  It does this because of the Coriolis Effect.

Recently there was a very devastating hurricane, known as Hurricane Harvey.  It swamped Texas and some surrounding states in the United States.   As I am writing this, I have a map that shows two tropical storms and another devastating Hurricane known as Hurricane Irma which has now become a category 5 hurricane.

Enhanced Satellite Hurricane Irma

Source: Hurricane Irma KSDK News

How does it work?

When hot tropical sunshine stirs up the moist air over the sea, that is when a hurricane begins.  Whirling over the ocean it starts to become a giant spinning wheel of cloud, wind, and rain.  The winds of a hurricane can do terrible devastating damage.  On the coast, huge waves raised by the winds can swamp the shore. The hurricane can move further inland but will begin to lose momentum because of the lack of elements that are needed to keep it going.  There is not as much moisture inland as there is on the coast.

What goes on inside of a hurricane?

The center of the hurricane is dead calm while strong winds fiercely swirl around the bottom of the storm.  The air that spirals up around the center builds up tall rain clouds.

Inside of Hurricane

Inside of Hurricane Source: How it Works Daily

Nowadays we have satellite images that track hurricanes.  This is wonderful.  Could you imagine when they didn’t have that technology?  In 1940, there was a hurricane in Albany, Georgia.  It hit without warning.  Tall buildings were knocked down and several people were killed.  Now we are warned and in most cases, have the time to board up houses and buildings.  Then we can get to the places we need to be safe from the devastation.

What to do?

Basic Preparedness Tips

  • Know where to go. If you are ordered to evacuate, know the local hurricane evacuation route(s) to take and have a plan for where you can stay. Contact your local emergency management agency for more information.
  • Put together a go-bag: disaster supply kit, including a flashlight, batteries, cash, first aid supplies, medications, and copies of your critical information if you need to evacuate
  • If you are not in an area that is advised to evacuate and you decide to stay in your home, plan for adequate supplies in case you lose power and water for several days and you are not able to leave due to flooding or blocked roads.
  • Make a family emergency communication plan.
  • Many communities have text or email alerting systems for emergency notifications. To find out what alerts are available in your area, search the internet with your town, city, or county name and the word “alerts”.

Preparing Your Home

  • Hurricane winds can cause trees and branches to fall, so before hurricane season trim or remove damaged trees and limbs to keep you and your property safe.
  • Secure loose rain gutters and downspouts and clear any clogged areas or debris to prevent water damage to your property.
  • Reduce property damage by retrofitting to secure and reinforce the roof, windows, and doors, including the garage doors.
  • Purchase a portable generator or install a generator for use during power outages. Remember to keep generators and other alternate power/heat sources outside, at least 20 feet away from windows and doors and protected from moisture; and NEVER try to power the house wiring by plugging a generator into a wall outlet.
  • Consider building a FEMA safe room or ICC 500 storm shelter designed for protection from high-winds and in locations above flooding levels.

After a Hurricane

  • Listen to local officials for updates and instructions
  • Text-in with family and friends by texting or using social media
  • Return home only when authorities indicate it is safe.
  • Watch out for debris and downed power lines
  • Avoid walking or driving through flood waters. Just 6 inches of moving water can knock you down, and one foot of fast-moving water can sweep your vehicle away.
  • Avoid floodwater as it may be electrically charged from underground or downed power lines and may hide dangerous debris or places where the ground is washed away.
  • Photograph the damage to your property in order to assist in filing an insurance claim.
  • Do what you can to prevent further damage to your property, (e.g., putting a tarp on a damaged roof), as insurance may not cover additional damage that occurs after the storm.

Resource:, DK Eyewitness Weather, DK Weather, explore nature with fun facts and activities, How it Works Magazine

Image Resource: Featured Image


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