The updates and news about hurricane season are a lot to keep up with–here's what to know about the storms.
Hurricane season is officially here.
On Thursday, Hurricane Florence’s path took the massive storm straight into South and North Carolinas, bringing with it heavy wind and rain and the potential for major destruction. The hurricane is expected to stay over the Carolinas coastline for several days and potentially have devastating effects on the landscape of the states, homes, and the people who stayed to ride out the storm.
"Catastrophic effects will be felt outside the center of the storm due to storm surge as high as 9 to 13 feet. That's the second story of a house," North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said Thursday morning according to CNN. "Tens of thousands of structures are expected to be flooded, and many more by rising rivers and creeks."
To stay informed on its path, check in with The Weather Channel, which will have extensive hurricane updates all weekend long.
Florence isn’t the first—nor will it be the last—named hurricane of the 2018 season. Here’s everything you need to know about hurricane season and how to prepare for the storms.
What is a hurricane?
It’s important to understand that a hurricane is a distinct weather event from just a regular storm.
As the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) explained, hurricanes first start out as a tropical cyclone, which is “a rotating low-pressure weather system that has organized thunderstorms but no fronts (a boundary separating two air masses of different densities).” Not all cyclones turn into hurricanes. However, tropical cyclones that come with maximum sustained surface winds of less than 39 miles per hour (mph) move into a category called tropical depressions. Then, those with maximum sustained winds of 39 mph or higher are called tropical storms. And when the storm’s maximum sustained winds reach 74 mph, it then becomes an official hurricane.
Why are they called hurricanes?
How are hurricanes measured?
Each storm is measured on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale, which gives the storm a one to five rating. That rating is based on a hurricane's maximum sustained winds. For example, a category one storm has sustained winds of 74-95 mph. A category one storm can produce some damage, including structural damage to rooftops and trees.
A category five storm, however, comes with sustained winds of 157 mph or higher. It will produce catastrophic damage. For reference, Hurricane Katrina was a category five storm when it struck New Orleans in 2005.
What’s the difference between a hurricane watch and a hurricane warning?
As NOAA explains that a hurricane warning means hurricane conditions are expected to hit your area. These warnings are typically issued 36 hours in advance. A hurricane watch means these conditions could possibly hit your area. Hurricane watches are typically issued 48 hours in advance.
When is hurricane season?
The official "Hurricane Season" begins on June 1 and ends on November 30, according to NOAA's National Hurricane Center. But, that doesn’t mean hurricanes can’t happen before or after those dates. NOAA explained that on average, hurricanes occur 12 times a year in the Atlantic basin.
How to prepare for a hurricane:
If you can ride out the storm, the National Hurricane Survival Initiative suggests the following hurricane prep list:
- Water (at least two quarts of bottled water per person per day)
- Food (a three-day supply per person of nonperishable food should do)
- First-aid kit (band-aids, gauze, prescription, and non-prescription drugs)
- Tools (mess kits, pliers, storage containers, batteries)
- Clothing (a few clean pairs of underwear, socks, and warm items)
- Entertainment (board games and books)
- Radio (to stay informed if the power goes out)
- Pet needs (food, their own water, and bedding)
For more information on preparing for and staying safe during the hurricane season check out the National Hurricane Center and follow all the rules and advice of first responders.