Hurricanes are deadly, devastating, and fascinating at the same time. They are some of the deadliest natural phenomena on the planet, often tearing across the US and the Caribbean, causing untold damage in their wake. There are even people who like to chase and record hurricanes and tornadoes – rather them than us!
We’ve run a fact file on tornadoes in the past, and it’s now time we looked at a similar, just as deadly phenomenon that has even struck the UK in recent history. Here are a few interesting facts about hurricanes you might not already know about.
Hurricanes tend to be some of the biggest and most deadly winds. They generally start in tropical areas out at sea and can sweep inland. They operate through absorbing energy from warm water and can even split off tornadoes as they go.
Hurricanes can be truly massive. They can generally reach up to 800km in diameter!
The direction in which hurricanes spin will differ depending on where they are in the world. In the northern hemisphere, you will find them turning anti-clockwise, while southern hemisphere countries only witness clockwise cyclones.
Hurricanes are classified as such when they reach a specific speed. Specifically, a storm of over 74 miles per hour will upgrade to hurricane status. Any cyclones travelling slower than this will either be known as tropical depressions or tropical storms.
Hurricanes were first named and effectively brought into consciousness around the turn of the 20th Century. Specifically, it was a weather forecaster called Wragge who named the phenomenon.
Hurricanes can carry some truly intense winds, with some able to reach up to 160 miles per hour.
There are hurricanes in outer space. Yes, really! Jupiter, the gas giant famous for its big red spot, has a seemingly never-ending hurricane. That big red dot is actually the hurricane itself. It’s supposedly been spinning now for three centuries, and it is big enough to envelop the Earth.
There is such a phenomenon as hurricane season, which will generally occur between June and November each year. This is when things really start to get humid in tropical regions, and where the majority of hurricanes are born.
There are five main categories of hurricanes, with ‘1’ being the mildest, and ‘5’ being the most devastating. Category ‘5’ hurricanes achieve wind speeds of more than 155 miles per hour!
The aftermath of Hurricane Katrina: New Orleans, United States
Despite popular belief, hurricanes are actually slowing down when they reach land. As they drive on warm water for energy, they will start grinding to a halt as they travel across dry plains. However, by this time, a hurricane has already done plenty of damage.
Again, despite popular opinion, it’s rare that a hurricane will bring thunder and lightning conditions along for the ride. That’s because the winds are horizontal, whereas vertical winds tend to breed lightning conditions.
However, Hurricane Katrina, one of the most devastating US hurricanes on record, bucked this trend, bringing thunder and lightning along with it.
2005 remains the deadliest year for Atlantic hurricanes on record, with 15 of the storms hitting the region in the space of 12 months.
The eye of a hurricane is said to be its safest part, though this is in the middle of the wrapping winds. Essentially, no parts of a hurricane, even on the outside, should be considered ‘safe’!
Florida tends to feel hurricanes more than any other area of the USA. In any given year, it’s thought that the state will fall victim to around 40% of winds to hit the country – at the very least.
Key West, Florida, USA
It’s thought that almost two million people have died as a result of rampaging hurricanes over the past two centuries.
Hurricane Katrina, as mentioned, was one of the deadliest and most devastating hurricanes to ever hit the US. One of the ‘big 15’ across the Atlantic in 2005, Katrina killed more than 1,800 citizens and flooded around 80% of the city of New Orleans. Homes, businesses, and entire streets were destroyed in the chaos and flooding, and it is thought that the total bill for the damage reached that of $80 billion.
Do you know any interesting facts about hurricanes? Share them in the comments below!