Reporting about Hurricanes

by Faith, Garrett, and Karla

Hurricanes form by air from surrounding areas with higher air pressure pushes in to the low pressure area. Then that "new" air becomes warm and moist and rises, too. As the warm air continues to rise, the surrounding air swirls in to take its place. As the warmed, moist air rises and cools off, the water in the air forms clouds. The whole system of clouds and wind spins and grows, fed by the ocean's heat and water evaporating from the surface

Damage caused by hurricanes can be very destructive. Leaving behind homeless, dead people and destroyed towns. These hurricanes cause so much damage due to their very high wind speeds, along with raging water.

Hurricanes are classified by Categories: 1,2,3,4,5.

Category 1: Winds: 74 to 95 mph

Storm surge: 4 to 5 feet above normal

Damage primarily to trees and unanchored mobile homes. Some coastal flooding

Category 2:Winds: 96 to 110 mph

Storm surge: 6 to 8 feet

Some damage to roofs, doors, windows, trees and shrubbery; flooding damage to piers.

Category 3: Winds: 111 to 130 mph

Storm surge: 9 to 12 feet

Some structural damage; large trees blown down; flooding near shoreline and possibly inland; mobile homes destroyed.

Category 4:Winds: 131 to 155 mph

Storm surge: 13 to 18 feet

Extensive damage to doors and windows; major damage to lower floors near shore; terrain may be flooded well inland.

Category 5:Winds: in excess of 155 mph

Storm surge: more than 18 feet

Complete roof failure and some building failures; massive evacuation. Flooding causes major damage to lower floors of all shoreline buildings.

For that reason the World Meteorological Organization develops a list of names that are assigned in alphabetical order to tropical storms as the are discovered in each hurricane season. Names can be repeated after an interval of six years, but the names of especially severe storms are permanently retired from use.

Every year around April the meteorologist on the news starts talking about how many named storms are predicted for the season and how many hurricanes are expected to make landfall. Scientists can predict the number of named storms and their breakdown by intensity (i.e. the number of hurricanes, tropical storms, intense hurricanes, etc.). They can also predict approximate wind speeds and intensity for sustained winds. These can be easily calculated using elementary statistics. Compared to past seasons, the sustained wind speed follows the Poisson Distribution with fairly consistent accuracy. Named storms are typically predicted based on past occurrences and current measures of factors in the climate. At the beginning of the season these are only labeled as probabilities.

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