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The Basics: Hurricanes, Tornadoes, and Storm Surges

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Here is a basic primer on hurricanes, tornadoes, and storm surges:

A hurricane is a severe tropical storm, that forms in the southern Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico, or in the eastern Pacific Ocean. Hurricanes need warm tropical oceans, moisture, and light winds above them. If the right conditions last long enough, a hurricane can produce violent winds, incredible waves, torrential rains and floods.

Hurricanes rotate in a counterclockwise direction around an “eye.” Hurricanes have winds at least 74 miles per hour. There are on average six Atlantic hurricanes each year; over a 3-year period, approximately five hurricanes strike the United States coastline from Texas to Maine.

When hurricanes move onto land, the heavy rain, strong winds and heavy waves can damage buildings, trees and cars. The heavy waves are called a storm surge. Storm surge is very dangerous and a major reason why you MUST stay away from the ocean during a hurricane warning or hurricane.

When you think about hurricanes you can not ignore tornadoes. Most (70%) landfalling hurricanes spawn at least one tornado. More than 20 tornadoes were reported during Hurricane David (1979). Most (90%) of the tornadoes that do form, occur on the right front side of the hurricane in the direction of its forward motion. Hurricanes may spawn tornadoes up to three days after landfall, although most of the tornadoes occur on the day of landfall, or on the next day.

Being tornado smart means having a safe place go and having the time to get there. Determine the safest place in your home – an interior room, a hallway, but never in a mobile home. With a NOAA weather radio, you will receive enough warning of any tornado threat.

Storm Surge
Storm surge is a massive dome of water often 50 miles wide, that sweeps across the coast near the area where the eye of the hurricane makes landfall. The storm surge acts like a bulldozer sweeping away everything in its path. The stronger the hurricane the higher the storm surge will be. For those who live along the coast, storm surge is one of the most dangerous hazards in a hurricane.

Compiled by Farmers’ Almanac  staff, based on a report from NOAA.

If you notice a hole in the upper left-hand corner of your Farmers' Almanac, don't return it to the store! That hole isn't a defect; it's a part of history. Starting with the first edition of the Farmers' Almanac in 1818, readers used to nail holes into the corners to hang it up in their homes, barns, and outhouses (to provide both reading material and toilet paper). In 1919, the Almanac's publishers began pre-drilling holes in the corners to make it even easier for readers to keep all of that invaluable information (and paper) handy.

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