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Hurricane Facts


Hurricane warning or hurricane watch means residents in a designated coastal area that may experience hurricane conditions within 36 hours. Families should enact their disaster action plan and begin to secure homes, vehicles and boats. Residents on barrier islands should consider evacuating.

Hurricane Warning - A hurricane warning indicates sustained winds of at least 74 mph are predicted for a designated area of the coastline within 24 hours. Residents should hurricane proof homes,complete required hurricane prep, disaster action plan and seek shelter in the safest location.

Hurricane Catagories, based on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale

The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale is a 1-5 rating based on the hurricane's present intensity. This is used to give an estimate of the potential property damage and flooding expected along the coast from a hurricane landfall. Wind speed is the determining factor in the scale, as storm surge values are highly dependent on the slope of the continental shelf and the shape of the coastline, in the landfall region. Note that all winds are using the U.S. 1-minute average.

Category One Hurricane:

Winds 74-95 mph (64-82 kt or 119-153 km/hr). No significant damage to building structures. Damage primarily to unanchored mobile homes, shrubbery, and trees. Some damage to poorly constructed signs. Also, some coastal road flooding and minor pier damage.

Category Two Hurricane:

Winds 96-110 mph (83-95 kt or 154-177 km/hr). Some roofing material, door, and window damage of buildings. Considerable damage to shrubbery and trees with some trees blown down. Considerable damage to mobile homes, poorly constructed signs, and piers. Coastal and low-lying escape routes flood 2-4 hours before arrival of the hurricane center. Small craft in unprotected anchorages break moorings.

Category Three Hurricane:

Winds 111-130 mph (96-113 kt or 178-209 km/hr). Some structural damage to small residences and utility buildings with a minor amount of curtainwall failures. Damage to shrubbery and trees with foliage blown off trees and large trees blown down. Mobile homes and poorly constructed signs are destroyed. Low-lying escape routes are cut by rising water 3-5 hours before arrival of the center of the hurricane. Flooding near the coast destroys smaller structures with larger structures damaged by battering from floating debris.

Category Four Hurricane:

Winds 131-155 mph (114-135 kt or 210-249 km/hr). More extensive curtainwall failures with some complete roof structure failures on small residences. Shrubs, trees, and all signs are blown down. Complete destruction of mobile homes. Extensive damage to doors and windows. Low-lying escape routes may be cut by rising water 3-5 hours before arrival of the center of the hurricane. Major damage to lower floors of structures near the shore.

Category Five Hurricane:

Winds greater than 155 mph (135 kt or 249 km/hr). Complete roof failure on many residences and industrial buildings. Some complete building failures with small utility buildings blown over or away. All shrubs, trees, and signs blown down. Complete destruction of mobile homes. Severe and extensive window and door damage. Low-lying escape routes are cut by rising water 3-5 hours before arrival of the center of the hurricane. Major damage to lower floors of all structures located less than 15 ft above sea level and within 500 yards of the shoreline. Massive evacuation of residential areas on low ground within 5-10 miles (8-16 km) of the shoreline may be required. As of 2008, only 3 Category Five Hurricanes have made landfall in the United States since records began.

HURRICANE WARNING: Critical Need for a National Hurricane Research Initiative

The United States possesses the most capable research enterprise, the largest economy, and the most sophisticated societal infrastructure in the world, yet it remains notably vulnerable to catastrophic damage and loss of life from natural hazards. Among weather hazards, hurricanes1 account for over half of the total damage inflicted.2 Hurricane-induced economic losses have increased steadily in the U.S. during the past 50 years, with estimated annual total losses (in constant 2006 dollars) averaging $1.3 billion from 1949-1989, $10.1 billion from 1990-1995, and $35.8 billion per year during the last 5 years. The 2005 season was exceptionally destructive, with Hurricane Katrina pushing annual damage loss over the $100 billion3 mark for the first time since records began. Added to this financial cost is the intolerable and unnecessary loss of life associated with hurricanes – 196 individuals perished from 1986-1995 and approximately 1,450 were lost in the past 2 years alone.4 Of course, hurricane impacts are not confined to the U.S.; weather-related disasters worldwide have outnumbered their less predictable, but equally important, geophysical counterparts (e.g., earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanoes) nine to one during the past decade.5

To place the Nation’s vulnerability in perspective, 50 percent of the U.S. population lives within 50 miles of a coastline.6 The physical infrastructure in coastal regions has grown dramatically over the past few decades and in the late 1990’s was worth about $3 trillion in the Gulf and Atlantic regions alone.7 Trillions of dollars in new seaboard infrastructure investment are expected over the next several decades.8 As our economy grows and the value of built-infrastructure continues to increase, the economic and societal impacts of hurricanes also can be expected to escalate.9 Although not all coastal regions are directly vulnerable to hurricanes, impacts from those regions that are affected can have national consequences, for example, via increased fuel prices and displaced citizens. Additionally, even though decaying tropical storms are an important source of fresh water for inland regions, associated flooding – occurring hundreds of miles from the coast and days after storm landfall – can be astonishingly destructive. Historically, flooding has claimed more lives in the U.S. than any other weather phenomenon10 and destructive tornadoes frequently accompany hurricanes.

Despite their destructive power, certainty of future occurrence, and advances made during the past decade in meteorological understanding and prediction, we still know relatively little about the most important aspects of hurricanes from an integrative perspective, including their internal dynamics and interactions with the larger-scale atmosphere and ocean; methods for quantifying and conveying uncertainty and mitigating hurricane impacts; associated short and long term consequences on the natural and built environment; and the manner in which society responds before, during, and after landfall. Billions of tax dollars have been provided for rescue, recovery, and rebuilding after hurricanes strike. Also important is national investment in the creation of new knowledge, and more effective application of existing knowledge to reduce these enormous public outlays, loss of life, and the associated societal disruption caused by hurricanes.

Recent hurricanes – catastrophic but not unprecedented – have focused public attention on the imperative to enhance our understanding of tropical weather systems and their multifaceted impacts, ranging from geophysical and engineering elements to human and economic dimensions. They also have heightened our awareness of the need to use new knowledge to prepare more effectively for, and respond more efficiently to, hurricanes that are an inevitable part of our future. Recognizing the many vital challenges associated with hurricanes in the broader context of natural disasters, the National Science Board (the Board) has engaged the Nation’s experts in science and engineering from government, academia, and industry in an intensive study to identify priorities in fundamental research, and complementary applied or mission-directed research, which can improve our Nation’s ability to become more resilient to hurricane impacts.

Hurricane preparedness and Hurricane Kits are a necessity for people who live in areas that are prone to hurricanes, especially now that category four and five hurricanes are becoming more prevalent due to global warming. In fact, households in areas where hurricane rarely pass should also prepare somehow because of the erratic behavior of hurricanes in recent years. According to government officials, hurricane emergency kits and the people's preparedness are the keys to surviving the hurricane season.

The huge loss of properties and lives from hurricanes Katrina and Rita have made a lot of people realize that planning is as important as having hurricane preparedness and kits. Even before the hurricane season starts, everyone who lives in places that are usually hit by storms should already do house repairs if necessary. Roofs, windows, ceilings, basements or cellars should be checked for leaks, cracks and anything that could make your home more vulnerable to strong winds and rain brought by hurricanes.

It is also necessary that every home should have some kind of action plan for when the hurricane hits. Special plans should also be in place for members of your family who are old, very young, or disabled.

Hurricane preparedness and kits should contain basic necessities, such as several gallons of clean drinking water and non-perishable food. However, you must regularly check the food and change the water in your hurricane emergency kits every six months. Your kits would not be of any help if they contain food and water supply that is stale or expired. Since there will definitely be power outage or unavailability of gas, you should also include candles, flashlights, transistor radio and waterproof matches in your kits. It would be better if the flashlight and the transistor radio that you use are hand-cranked so you do not have to think about buying batteries.

There is a big chance that your home will not survive the hurricane, so you should not forget to include important documents as part of your emergency kits. Just make sure that you put important papers inside waterproof document storage bags. You should also add into your hurricane emergency kits tools like shovels, axes and machetes to help you gather wood for cooking or help your family get out in case you are trapped inside your home. Also, pack some clothes, blankets, personal hygiene and sanitation implements, medicine and other basic items that your family needs and if you have pets, small children or elderly folks living with you, include items that they will need as well.

Where Do Hurricanes Occur in Mexico?
If you’re planning a trip or vacation in a tropical climate such as Mexico it would be a good idea to know when and where hurricanes occur. Hurricanes and more generally, tropical cyclones occur in seven distinct areas around the globe. Several hurricane formation basins are much livelier than others and manufacture many more tropical storms and hurricanes.

How Hurricanes Form

When comparing formation zones, some tropical cyclone basins have a greater duration and time frame in which tropical cyclones may occur during the year. How hurricanes form; most tropical cyclones form from a disturbance in the monsoon trough. However the north Atlantic basin is significantly different though, due mainly because most of these hurricanes form from easterly waves of which originate from Africa.

Hurricane Season Forecast

The North Atlantic Ocean, hurricane season begins: June 1 through to November 30; and becoming more active in mid August through the latter part of October. Locations included in this region are the Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean Sea and Atlantic Ocean.

Hurricanes may also affect the southern and eastern U.S., the Caribbean, the Bahamas, Bermuda, eastern Mexico, and eastern Canada.

The Eastern North Pacific Ocean, hurricane season begins: May 15 through to November 30. The Eastern North Pacific Ocean is known as the second most active region for tropical cyclones in the world. Included in this basin are the popular tourist destinations and resorts of western Mexico and Cabo San Lucas.

Pacific Hurricane Season

The Northwest Pacific Ocean, Typhoon season: Year round, and is the most active basin in the world. Most typhoons form July through November. This zone covers Guam, the Philippines, southeast China, and Japan.

The Bay of Bengal or, Arabian Sea, harsh Cyclonic storm season: Early April through the end of December. This basin has a double maximum because of the monsoon through moving through at two different times of the year. Maximums occur from mid April through May and from mid September through mid December. These tropical cyclones effect India, Bangladesh, and Myanmar.

The Southwest Pacific Ocean, Severe Tropical Cyclone Season: Mid October through May 1. These tropical cyclones may affect eastern Australia.

The Southeast Indian Ocean, Severe Tropical Cyclone Season: Mid October through May. These tropical cyclones may affect northern and western Australia. This basin has a double maximum in mid January, and mid February through early March.

The Southwest Indian Ocean, Tropical Cyclone Season: October 15 - May 15. These tropical cyclones may affect Madagascar and southeastern Africa. A double maximum occurs in mid January and mid February through early March.

Hurricane Preparedness - Baja Hurricane Season.
Past History has demonstrated time and time again that a lack of hurricane awareness and hurricane preparedness are common occurrences among all major hurricane disasters.

Preparing for hurricane; you can be less vulnerability by knowing what actions you should take for you and your family’s personal safety, the protection of your home and cherished belongings; in order to reduce the effects of a hurricane disaster. Hurricane Preparedness is about becoming informed about hurricane hazards and gaining knowledge and developing a hurricane preparedness list which can be used to take ACTION.

The information we will share with you her can be used to save lives at work, home, while on the road, or on the water this Baja hurricane season.

Hazards of a hurricane come in many forms:

Storm Surge:

Storm surge is simply water that is pushed toward the shore by the force of the winds swirling around the storm. This advancing surge combines with the normal tides to create the hurricane storm tide, which can increase the mean water level 15 feet or more.

In addition, wind driven waves are superimposed on the storm tide. This rise in water level can cause severe flooding in coastal areas, particularly when the storm tide coincides with the normal high tides.

Hurricane Marty was the deadliest tropical cyclone of the 2003 Pacific & Baja hurricane season. Forming on September 18, it became the 13th tropical storm and fourth hurricane of the year.

The storm moved generally northwestward and steadily intensified despite only a marginally favorable environment for development, and became a Category 2 hurricane before making two landfalls on the Baja California peninsula and mainland Mexico.

The hurricane was responsible for significant flooding and storm surges that caused $50.5 million (2003 USD) in damage, mostly on the peninsula of Baja California, and resulted in the deaths of 12 people.

Marty affected many of the same areas that had been affected by Hurricane Ignacio a month earlier.

The level of surge in a particular area is also determined by the slope of the continental shelf. A shallow slope off the coast will allow a greater surge to inundate coastal communities. Communities with a steeper continental shelf will not see as much surge inundation, although large breaking waves can still present major problems. Storm tides, waves, and currents in confined harbors severely damage ships, marinas, and pleasure boats.

High Winds:

The strength of a land falling hurricane is expressed in terms of categories that relate wind speeds and potential damage. According to the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale, a Category 1 hurricane has lighter winds compared to storms in higher categories.

A Category 4 hurricane would have winds between 131 and 155 mph and, on the average, would usually be expected to cause 100 times the damage of the Category 1 storm. Depending on circumstances, less intense storms may still be strong enough to produce damage, particularly in areas that have not prepared in advance.
Tropical storm force winds are infact strong enough to be hazardous to those who get caught in them.

Hurricane force winds can with no trouble destroy weakly constructed buildings and mobile homes. Signs, roofing material, and other debris such as small items left outside become flying missiles in hurricanes. Extensive damage to trees, towers, water and underground utility lines, and fallen poles cause considerable disruption.

High rise buildings are also amongst the vulnerable to hurricane force winds, predominantly at the higher levels since wind speed tends to increase with height. Recent research suggests you should stay below the tenth floor, but still above any floors at risk for flooding. It is not uncommon for high rise buildings to suffer a great deal of damage due to windows being blown out. As a result, the areas around these buildings can be very dangerous.

The right side of the hurricane, known as the eyewall tends to maintain the strongest winds.

Wind speed usually decreases significantly within 12 hours after landfall. Nonetheless, winds can stay above hurricane strength well inland.

Hurricane John, for example, hit the southern tip of the Baja Peninsula in September, 2006. John was a Category 3 Hurricane with 115 mph winds at 5am. This translates into some pretty serious damage for the coast. (Courtesy of Storm Tracker Meteorologist Erin Jordan)


Hurricanes can also produce tornadoes that add to the storm's destructive power. Tornadoes are most likely to occur in the right front quadrant of the hurricane. However, they are also often found elsewhere embedded in the rainbands, well away from the center of the hurricane.

Some hurricanes seem to produce no tornadoes, while others develop multiple ones. Studies have shown that more than half of the land falling hurricanes produce at least one tornado.

We have no way at present to predict exactly which storms will spawn tornadoes or where they will touch down. The new Doppler radar systems have greatly improved the forecaster's warning capability, but the technology usually provides lead times from only a few minutes up to about 30 minutes. Consequently, preparedness is critical.

Facts about Hurricanes & Tornados

When associated with hurricanes, tornadoes are not usually accompanied by hail or a lot of lightning, clues that citizens in other parts of the country watch for.

Tornado production can occur for days after landfall when the tropical cyclone remnants maintain an identifiable low pressure circulation.

They can also develop at any time of the day or night during landfall.

However, by 12 hours after landfall, tornadoes tend to occur mainly during daytime hours.


When it comes to hurricanes, wind speeds do not tell the whole story. Hurricanes produce storm surges, tornadoes, and often the most deadly of all; inland flooding.

While storm surge is always a potential threat, more people have died from inland flooding from 1970 up to 2000. Intense rainfall is not directly related to the wind speed of tropical cyclones. In fact, some of the greatest rainfall amounts occur from weaker storms that drift slowly or stall over an area.

Inland flooding can be a major threat to communities hundreds of miles from the coast as intense rain falls from these huge tropical air masses.

1997 Hurricane Nora was the fourteenth named tropical cyclone and seventh hurricane of the Pacific hurricane season. The September storm formed off the Pacific coast of Mexico, and aided by waters warmed by El Niño, eventually peaked at Category 4 intensity on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale.

Nora intensified and weakened quickly before taking an unusual path, which lead it to make landfall twice as a hurricane in Baja California. After landfall, its remnants affected the Southwestern United States with tropical storm-force winds, torrential rain and flooding.

Nora is blamed for two direct casualties in Mexico, as well as substantial beach erosion on the Mexican coast, flash flooding in Baja California, and record precipitation in Arizona. Nora persisted far inland; it was only the third known tropical cyclone to reach Arizona while tropical.

Think inland flooding the next time you hear hurricane!

Therefore it is crucially important for your family to have a plan that includes all of these hazards. Carefully examine the safety actions recommended with each type of hurricane hazard and prepare your family disaster plan accordingly.

But do remember this is only meant as a guide. The first and most important thing anyone should do when facing a hurricane threat is to use common sense.

The following questions should be answered before a hurricane threatens:

o What are the Hurricane Hazards?
o What does it mean to you?
o What actions should you take to be prepared?

Frequently visit the NOAA Coastal Services Center Historical Hurricane Tracks website to learn about historical tropical cyclones taking place in different areas located throughout the Atlantic, Caribbean, and Gulf of Mexico.

The website provides information about hurricane strikes as well as links to various Internet resources focusing on tropical cyclones. The interactive mapping application allows you to search the National Hurricane Center historical tropical cyclone database and graphically display storms affecting your area since 1851.

Hurricane preparedness is essential to protect your family and personal belongings; learn the facts and be prepared this Baja hurricane season.

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