HURRICANE EFFECTS can create major problems.
The maximum effects of a hurricane are usually felt within the right-front
quadrant. Here the winds are usually the strongest, storm surge is highest, and the possibility
of tornadoes is greatest. It is important to know whether or not your area will be affected by
the right-front quadrant. It could mean the difference between maximum hurricane conditions or a
STORM SURGE is the fast uprising of sea level that happens
when a hurricane approaches the coast. Two factors that cause
storm surge are:
- Strong winds that push the water toward the coast and
- Suction created by the storm's low pressure.
Galveston Island on the Texas coast has suffered much damage due to hurricane-caused
storm surges. A large sea wall has been built to help reduce the damage caused by the surges.
The frequent occurrence of storm surges has also played a part in the destruction of Highway 87
along the Texas coast, which was used by many local beach-goers.
HEAVY RAINFALL is produced by hurricanes. The amount of
rainfall usually varies
between 6 and 12 inches. The most deadly rainfall occurs inland because a hurricane
produces destructive floods. The flooding is the major cause of hurricane-related deaths.
The danger from flooding depends on the storm's speed, other weather systems in the same area,
the ground saturation, and the terrain.
Rains are heaviest in the six hours before and the six hours after the hurricane reaches
landfall. Sometimes a hurricane can last for days and produce floods. These floods can
occur more than 100 miles inland. One way to estimate the total inches of rainfall is to divide 100 by the
forward speed of the hurricane in miles per hour.
Sometimes the remnants of the hurricane may join with other storm systems causing
severe rainfall in states far away from where the hurricane came inland.
Hurricane Camille in 1969 came into the Gulf Coast area, but the remnants combined with a cold
front in the mountains of Virginia and produced 30 inches of rain. This storm also killed 109 people.
HIGH WINDS is another effect of hurricanes. The wind speed and
potential damage of a hurricane is expressed as categories according to he Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale.
These high winds can easily destroy homes and buildings. Debris, such as signs or broken materials, can become
airborne and penetrate just about anything with missile-like force.
TORNADOES are often produced by hurricanes. Even though the
most likely form in the right-front quadrant of the hurricane, they can appear elsewhere.
Some hurricanes develop several tornadoes, while others create none at all. During
Beulah in 1967, 141 tornadoes developed on the Texas coast. It is true, though, that more than one-half
of hurricanes that make landfall will develop at least one tornado. There is no way to predict
which hurricanes will produce tornadoes. Generally, tornadoes do not occur with hail or a lot
of lightning. If a low pressure system remains for days after landfall, tornadoes
can still develop. However, after twelve hours, they tend to appear mainly during the day.
RIP TIDES are another effect of hurricanes.
Rip tides are strong sea currents. They push away from the shore as a strong storm is near.
Rip tide warnings are often the first indication of a nearby hurricane.
They are formed by the strong winds pushing water towards the shore.
The wind of a tropical cyclone can push waves up against the shoreline even if it is hundreds
of miles away.
Play the Danger Zone, an interactive quiz over the effects of hurricanes.
Learn more about the THE DEADLIEST DISASTER IN AMERICAN HISTORY.
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