We’ve all seen the devastation and destruction caused by hurricanes. These natural disasters cause extensive damage to homes, coastlines, and entire cities due to devastating floods caused by heavy rainfall, high winds, and debris swept up by these deadly storms.
Hurricanes form in summer and fall months when the sun heats up the ocean’s waters. The moist, warm air creates intense thunderstorms, while upper and surface level winds combine to form a circular tropical depression that can quickly grow into a deadly hurricane. While most hurricanes dissipate over the ocean, these storms can cause unparalleled devastation when they hit shore.
Here are seven interesting facts about hurricanes:
- Do you know the difference between a hurricane, typhoon, or a cyclone? In reality, these are all different words to describe the same natural disaster. These terms are differentiated only by their location. When a tropical cyclone occurs in the Atlantic or eastern Pacific Ocean, it’s referred to as a hurricane, whereas typhoons and cyclones occur in the western Pacific Ocean and Indian Ocean respectively.
- A tropical storm only becomes classified as a hurricane once it reaches wind speeds of at least 74 mph. The fastest-ever hurricane on record was Hurricane Allen, reaching speeds of 190 mph in 1980.
- The energy released from the rain and cloud formation in one hurricane generates approximately 200 times as much energy as all of the world’s electricity-generating technologies combined, or the equivalent of 10 atomic bombs per second.
- Hurricanes can vary widely in size, with diameters ranging anywhere between 100 to 1000 miles wide (160 to 1600 km). For comparison, the state of Texas is 660 miles wide at its widest point.
- Slow-moving hurricanes generate more rain than fast-moving hurricanes, and therefore actually cause more water damage from flooding.
- Over the course of the last 200 years, nearly 2 million deaths have been caused by hurricanes. Approximately 90% of deaths caused by hurricanes are due to flooding.
- A single hurricane releases more than 2.4 trillion gallons (9 trillion liters) of rain per day. In just one day, this is enough rain water for every person on earth to take 20 showers each.
As global temperatures continue to rise, hurricanes are quickly increasing in size. There is no way to prevent hurricanes, but improved tracking technologies have resulted in a greater ability to predict these deadly storms, giving coastal towns and cities more time to evacuate when needed.