Hurricane 101

Whether you are a new Florida resident or haven’t had to deal with too many hurricanes, it’s important to know a little bit about this weather phenomenon and how it comes to be. Did you know that roughly 85% of all Atlantic hurricanes (category 3 or higher) all have origins originating from Africa? During the heart of hurricane season, the first major weather disturbances actually form in the “main development area” located between the Lesser Antilles and Africa. Seeing as these winds, or “Cape Verde storms”, travel a long way to wreak havoc on our Florida shores, it’s important to prepare for this impending hurricane season.

The “perfect storm” basics needed to create a hurricane can be quite misunderstood by some. The warm ocean water of the southern Atlantic serves as a source of energy while a disturbance in the atmosphere causes instability, such as a front, depression or wind shear (or change in direction). This combination of moisture, energy, high level winds and a trigger can blow a tropical storm into a full-fledged hurricane in no time.

So, how do you know a hurricane is approaching? Meteorologists use measurements to see at what speeds winds are approaching. When a hurricane is a couple days away from hitting, people are typically alerted to prepare their homes. Specialized computers predict just how fast the stream of air will move and in which direction the cyclone is headed. Although hurricane science isn’t perfected, meteorologists have managed to achieve precise accuracy within 125 miles of impact zones. This is why alerts tend to spread across large portions of the coast in case the storm suddenly veers right or left.

While we have touched upon preparing for a hurricane, it’s also important to know when to heed hurricane warnings. When the National Weather Service decides that a storm is 2 days out, they will implement this warning in order for residents to enact their safety plans. This warning also means that the storm is likely to generate winds over 73 miles per hour! This is why it’s important to secure all windows and doors around your home or have hurricane-resistant windows and doors installed!

Along with extreme winds, dangerous high water, coastal flooding and rough seas are expected. For homeowners, this means to prepare for a combination of flooding as well as lightning storms, a dangerous combination. The safest place during this phase of a hurricane is inside of your home. It’s important to create the safest place possible for you and your family. Take steps to ensure you have quality hurricane features installed in order to minimize damage and maximize safety.

As always, prepare a safety plan in case the eye of the storm is headed directly your way. Heed evacuation alerts and follow the guidance of the emergency managers in your area. Remember, the eye of the storm may present itself as if the storm has passed, however, this isn’t the case! Storms typically span 300 miles across and the eye can give a feeling of ‘calm weather’ for up to an hour. Prepare yourself accordingly to weather the storm as it passes and make sure to always have a two week supply of food and water for family and pets!

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