What is a Hurricane? Facts and Information

Here are some facts about hurricanes.

  • A hurricane is a tropical cyclone or storm, with winds stronger than 119 km per hour. They occur in the North Atlantic, and are known as typhoons or cyclones in other parts of the world.

  • Hurricanes were first given girl’s names in 1953, and then male and female names in 1979. The names are assigned several years ahead of time, and used again every few years.
  • A hurricane begins as several different winds merging together. Moist air, high pressure and thermal energy all help to increase the wind speed over time.
  • Hurricane season in the Atlantic Ocean is from June to November, with most occurring in September. On average, 6 hurricanes reach the coast of the US each year.
  • Hurricane Katrina, which hit Louisiana in 2005 was one of the deadliest and costliest hurricanes. It killed over 1,800 people and caused an estimated $80 billion of damage.
  • In October, 2012, Hurricane Sandy killed over 100 people in the US. The powerful storm forced airlines to cancel over 20,000 flights and cost the airline industry almost $200 million.
  • Most hurricanes move slowly at first, often at only 16 km per hour.
  • A hurricane is officially described as making landfall when the eye of the storm (the hurricane’s centre) reaches land, rather than the edge of the storm.
  • Hurricanes lose much of their strength once they reach the coast and move inland. However, they can also cause heavy rains, high waves, tornadoes and heavy flooding in low areas.
  • The heavy waves caused by a hurricane can toss large fish onto the beach. The sudden change in pressure can often cause their eyes to pop out.
  • The eye of the hurricane can measure anything from 3 km to over 300 km across. Although the eye is calm, the winds around the eye are some of the strongest.

10 Hurricane Andrew Facts

Here are some facts about Hurricane Andrew:

  • Hurricane Andrew formed on 16th August 1992 and it came to an end on 28th August 1992.
  • It mainly affected The Bahamas, and Florida and Louisiana (in the United States).

  • When it happened in August 1992, Hurricane Andrew was the costliest hurricane to ever hit the United States. It has since been overtaken by Hurricane KatrinaHurricane Sandy, Hurricane Ike and Hurricane Wilma.
  • The Bahamas was severely affected by Hurricane Andrew. More than 750 houses were destroyed by the strong winds and high tides. Four people lost their lives in the Bahamas and it is estimated that Hurricane Andrew cost the Bahamas $250 million in damage and destruction.
  • The hurricane struck the Florida coast on 24th August 1992, before heading on to Louisiana.
  • The disaster was directly responsible for the deaths of 26 people, with another 40 losing their lives as an indirect consequence of it. Some 250,000 people were made homeless.
  • The damage in Florida alone was estimated as costing somewhere in the region of $25 billion.
  • About 1.4 million people lost power to their properties, and around 150,000 had their telephone services knocked out.
  • The hurricane damaged Florida’s wildlife and natural environment. It was estimated that around 70,000 acres of mangrove swamps were either completely destroyed or seriously damaged.
  • When it struck in 1992, Hurricane Andrew was the third most powerful hurricane to hit the United States during the 20th century. The other two which were more powerful were the 1935 Florida Keys Hurricane, and Hurricane Camille, which took place in 1969.
  • Hurricane Andrew led to a change in Florida’s building laws. New buildings must now be constructed to a higher standard, and improvements have been made to the way in which new buildings are inspected.

Hurricane Sandy Facts

Here are some facts about Hurricane Sandy, the devastating hurricane of 2012.

  • Hurricane Sandy was the most destructive of the 2012 hurricane season, as well as one of the costliest ever. It is estimated to have caused about $75 billion in damage and killed over 285 people.

  • Sandy made landfall on several of the islands in the Caribbean, as well as in Brigantine, New Jersey, on October 26. However, it caused damage in 24 states in the eastern US.
  • Hurricane Sandy extended about 175 miles from its centre, and the strong winds could be felt up to 1,100 miles away. Its highest winds measured about 115 mph.
  • Hurricane Sandy was the first hurricane to make landfall in Jamaica for 24 years. It caused about 70 percent of the island to lose power, stranded over 100 fishermen and destroyed the roofs of many buildings.
  • Several states prepared for the storm in advance. Almost 50,000 Air Force and National Guard members were on standby, about 5,000 flights were cancelled and many schools closed.
  • In parts of New York, bicycles were used to generate power to recharge laptop computers and cell phones. At one point, in New York alone, about 2 million people were without power.
  • The storm affected preparations for the upcoming election at the time, with both Obama and Romney having to cancel dozens of events. It also forced the New York Stock Exchange to close for two days.
  • Over a million people in the storm’s path were ordered to evacuate. The Red Cross estimated that it offered temporary housing to about 11,000 people.
  • Because Hurricane Sandy was so large and powerful, it was nicknamed a Frankenstorm.
  • A Hurricane Sandy concert to benefit the victims took place on 12-12-12. Among those performing were The Who, Bruce Springsteen and Paul McCartney.

Hurricane Katrina Facts

Here are some facts about Hurricane Katrina, the massive hurricane that devastated Louisiana in 2005.

  • Hurricane Katrina was one of the 5 worst storms in US history, and the worst hurricane of the 2005 season. It was also the country’s most expensive natural disaster.

  • The hurricane formed over the Bahamas and gained strength in the Gulf of Mexico. It affected the states along the gulf, from Florida to Texas, but most notably Louisiana, before continuing up the east coast.
  • Between 23 August and 31 August, when it dissipated, Hurricane Katrina actually made landfall three times, in Florida and in Louisiana. In total, it affected an area of about 90,000 square miles.
  • Hurricane Katrina was the strongest hurricane recorded in the Gulf region, at that time. At one point, the winds were measured at close to 175 mph.
  • Over 1,800 people died as a result of the storm. Hundreds of other people were forced to move to other cities.
  • Hurricane Katrina directly caused massive amounts of property damage to the state of Mississippi, whereas Louisiana was devastated by flood waters as its levee system failed. This took place after the storm had moved further inland.
  • New Orleans was one of the areas most affected, with about 80 percent of the city flooded, and 900,000 people without electricity. The cost of the hurricane in Louisiana and Mississippi was more than $150 billion.
  • The storm surge from Hurricane Katrina was so great that it reached 12 miles inland. In Biloxi, a floating casino barge was washed up on top of a hotel by the rushing waters.
  • The storm also caused a lot of debris to be piled up. If all the debris was stacked together in an area the size of a football field, it would make a pile 10 miles high.
  • In preparation for the hurricane, the first ever mandatory evacuation of New Orleans was ordered. About 26,000 residents sheltered in the huge Louisiana Superdome, where they were given food and water.
  • After the hurricane hit, over 60 countries around the world promised money to help with rebuilding. The biggest contribution came from Kuwait, which pledged $500 million.