Hurricanes are one of the greatest and violent forces of nature. They can strike with such force, demolishing everything in its path leaving behind total destruction and loss of life. Unlike tornadoes, a hurricane will usually give you adequate warning allowing time for evacuations if necessary.
There are several factors that are required for a hurricane to form. The main ingredients in order for a hurricanes development are warm water usually greater than 79 degrees F., warm, moist air and upper divergence. There are also four stages of development. Stage One is called a tropical disturbance of wave. It begins with a cluster of thunderstorms that have a slight cyclonic circulation. Stage Two, it becomes a tropical depression with winds less than 38 mph. At this point it receives a number name. Stage Three, it has now become a tropical storm with winds ranging between 38 – 74 mph. At this stage it is given a name. Names are given from a list of pre-selected names beginning with the letter A going through Z making several rounds of the alphabet. The names also alternate between male and female names. Stage Four, is a full blown hurricane. Winds must exceed 74 mph. At this point it keeps the name it was given as a tropical storm and now also receives a number category showing the strength of the hurricane, one being the weakest and five being the strongest. If a hurricane is very intense or destructive, its name will usually be retired.
Hurricanes leave behind a lot of destruction. Flooding causes a great deal of damage to an already ravished area. Inland flooding is due to heavy rains, which can exceed 20 inches especially in mountainous regions. Coastline flooding is due to high surf and storm surge. A storm surge may exceed 25 feet not including the impending waves that follow. Storm surge is probably the most destructive part of a hurricane.
Winds are another thing that causes mass destruction. Winds are mainly a coastal problem. Wind speed is affected by friction. Once a hurricane reaches land is winds will begin to diminish rapidly, especially if the land has hills or mountain terrain.
Tornadoes are another concern during a hurricane. Once the hurricane reaches land, there is the probability that it will spawn numerous tornadoes. These tornadoes are not like regular tornadoes because they are usually weak and short in duration. These tornadoes are spontaneous and unpredictable unlike the hurricane itself.
Hurricane Andrew occurred in 1992 hitting the tip of Florida with such force and devastation. Many people lost their homes and well as their lives. When the hurricane was over the areas that were hit the hardest looked like the side of a war torn country. You could find yachts on top of two story buildings like a hand of a giant carefully picked them up and places them there. Houses were torn to shreds leaving behind fragmented memories to the families who once lived in them. Potable water was difficult to find and people were coming from other states and charging outrageous prices for fresh water and ice. Food was scarce and electricity was off for at least two weeks in the least hit areas and much longer in the more devastated areas. I know this because I was there. I lived through Hurricane Andrew, watched the devastation, the wonders of nature, the renewal of life, the pain and suffering of the people and animals.