Just the Facts

Five Facts on Hurricanes

By No Labels
September 13, 2018 | Blog

The first major storm of the Atlantic hurricane season is projected to make a direct hit to the coast of the Carolinas over the course of Thursday evening and Friday night.  States of emergency have been declared all along the East Coast as millions of people are expected to be affected by the storm.  Here are five facts on hurricanes:

The Atlantic hurricane season starts on June 1 and runs through the end of November

Similarly, the Eastern Pacific Ocean hurricane season begins on May 15 and lasts through November.  However, the U.S. has faced far more danger from the Atlantic, as hurricanes in the Pacific often stay well off the coast.  According to NASA, hurricanes are the most violent storms on earth, and are categorized by the speed of their wind gusts.  In order to be named a tropical storm, the storm system must have sustained winds between 39 and 73 mph; storms become category 1 hurricanes when the sustained winds reach 75 mph and can climb all the way up to category 5 hurricanes if their wind speed eclipses 157 mph.

Hurricane Katrina is the costliest hurricane in history, causing more  than $108 billion in damage

No storm has caused more destruction than hurricane Katrina, a category 3 storm that ravaged New Orleans, parts of Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana.  It left 80% of the city of New Orleans underwater, with some areas experiencing water depths up to 20 feet. Residents were forced to take to their rooftops or use boats to escape the rising floodwaters. In the end Katrina took 1,833 lives.

The Great Galveston Storm of 1900 is the deadliest hurricane in U.S. history

It is estimated that the storm took between 8,000 and 12,000 lives in Galveston, Texas, a small barrier island on the Gulf of Mexico.  With limited storm tracking technology at the time, the storm hit with almost no warning.  In an oral history of the storm, survivors recall “A great gray wall about 50-feet high and moving slowly toward the island.” The city was left all but destroyed and there were so many casualties that efforts to dump the bodies in the Gulf of Mexico were unsuccessful, as they would continue to wash back up on shore for weeks on end.

The 2017 hurricane season was the most expensive in American history

It is estimated that the U.S. suffered more than $200 billion worth of damage from 17 named storms throughout the season.  This is far more than the previous record of $159 billion which was set in 2005, and was fueled in large part by the destruction caused by hurricane Katrina. In comparison, 2017 saw three massive hurricanes – Harvey, Irma, and Maria – hit its coasts.  These storms did immense damage to Houston, Florida, and Puerto Rico, respectively.  The death toll from Maria was recently revised by the Puerto Rican government, which now estimates that it is responsible for 2,975 deaths, making it one of the five deadliest hurricanes in U.S. history.

Florence is going to be the first major hurricane of the 2018 Atlantic season

Hurricane Florence has been described as “a Mike Tyson punch to the Carolina coast” by a spokesman for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).  It has fluctuated between a category 2 and a category 3 storm and is projected to hit the border between North and South Carolina but will have its effects felt as far away as Georgia, Kentucky, and Tennessee. In a recent statement from the oval office, President Trump warned of the storms strength but assured that “We [the federal government] are absolutely, totally prepared.”

 

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