Hurricanes are massive storms that form over warm ocean waters, and are capable of moving at incredible speeds (faster than the fastest animal on land, the cheetah!). When a hurricane strikes land, it brings with it powerful winds, heavy rainfall and even tornadoes—a complete recipe for disaster and destruction. Read on to learn 50 facts about Hurricanes.
Fact 1: Hurricane winds can travel up to a speed of 160mph.
- These spiralling tropical storms can unleash more than 2.4 trillion gallons of rain a day.
Fact 2: Over a third of pet owners don’t have a ‘disaster action plan’ in place for their animals for when hurricanes hit.
- Cat and dog owners must decide on a course of action such as having pet supplies set aside in a safe, easily accessible place in case of a hurricane.
Fact 3: Around 40% of the hurricanes that occur in the United States hit Florida.
- Hurricane Irma is the costliest storm to have it Florida so far. Not only did this storm cost a lot in terms of money, but it claimed several lives, homes, and pets in the process.
Fact 4: On September 8, 1900, the deadliest U.S. hurricane on record hit the island city of Galveston, Texas.
- The category 4 storm delivered 15-ft waves and 130-mph winds resulting in the deaths of 8,000 residents.
Fact 5: In the Atlantic, hurricane season starts on June 1, while in the Pacific it starts on May 15.
- Interestingly, the hurricane season in both the Atlantic and the Pacific end on November 30.
Fact 6: When a hurricane makes landfall, it brings heavy rains, strong winds and heavy waves that damage buildings, trees and cars.
- The heavy waves are called a storm surge.
Fact 7: You can tell the difference between a tropical storm and a hurricane based on their wind speed.
- Tropical storms usually bring winds of 36 to 47 mph, while hurricane wind speeds are at least 74 mph.
Fact 8: Hurricanes are classified into 5 categories, based on their wind speeds and potential to cause damage.
- Meteorologists use the Saffir Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale to measure a hurricane’s strength.
Fact 9: Hurricanes rotate in a counter-clockwise direction around the ‘eye’.
- The rotating storm clouds create the “eye wall,” which is the most destructive part of the storm.
Fact 10: When the National Hurricane Center began giving official names to storms in 1953, they were all female names.
- However, this practice of using only women’s names ended in 1978.
Fact 11: The costliest hurricane to ever make landfall was Hurricane Katrina.
- Hurricane Katrina was a Category 5 storm that slammed into the state of Louisiana, US, in August 2005, resulting in $108 billion worth of damages. Although this sum of money doesn’t compare to the amount of psychological harm caused by this hurricane!
Fact 12: Hurricane names can be “retired” if a hurricane has been really big and destructive.
- So far, retired hurricane names include Katrina, Andrew, Mitch and most recently Sandy.
Fact 13: Tropical Storms that originate in the Atlantic or Northeast Pacific are called Hurricanes.
- An Atlantic hurricane usually forms in the Atlantic Ocean between the months of June and November.
Fact 14: The Storms that form in the Northwest Pacific are called Typhoons.
- On average, approximately 20 tropical cyclones enter the Philippine Area of Responsibility each year. This area incorporates parts of the Pacific Ocean, the South China Sea and the Philippine Archipelago.
Fact 15: The Storms that form in the South Pacific or Indian oceans are called Cyclones.
- In June 2019, the severely strong cyclone Vayu, wreaked havoc in India.
Fact 16: Pilots began to fly into typhoons and hurricanes in 1943, to this day only 4 planes have been lost to the storms.
- No trace of these 4 planes or their crew has ever been found.
Fact 17: The word ‘hurricane’ comes from the Taino Native American word, ‘hurucane’, which means ‘evil spirit of the wind’.
- In some islands of the Caribbean, Huracan is the name given for the God of Evil.
Fact 18: The first time anyone flew into a hurricane happened in 1943, in the middle of World War II.
- Hurricane Surprise was the first tracked tropical cyclone in the 1943 Atlantic hurricane season. It later developed into a tropical storm over the Northeastern Gulf of Mexico, on July 25.
Fact 19: Surprisingly, hurricanes are the only weather disasters that have been given their own names.
- The use of easily remembered names, greatly reduces confusion when 2 or more tropical storms occur at the same time.
Fact 20: A typical hurricane can dump 6 inches to a foot of rain across a region.
- Just one inch of water can cause $25,000 of damage to your home.
Fact 21: Christopher Columbus wrote the first known report of a hurricane in 1495.
- Christopher Columbus made the first official hurricane report after he encountered a hurricane near Hispaniola in 1495.
Fact 22: Every second, a large hurricane releases the energy of 10 atomic bombs.
- In fact, hurricanes produce enough energy in 1 day to run the lights of Las Vegas for many years.
Fact 23: Hurricanes can also create tornadoes, although they are not as strong as regular tornadoes and only last a few minutes.
- For example, Hurricane Andrew in 1992 spawned 62 tornadoes, and Hurricane Beulah in 1967 created a whopping 141 tornadoes.
Fact 24: Interestingly, slow-moving hurricanes produce more rainfall, and can cause more damage from flooding than fast-moving, more powerful hurricanes.
- This is because slow-moving hurricanes bring with them persistent winds, and storms that stall near the coastline, they pile up the water and prolong the coastal flooding.
Fact 25: Hurricane Floyd was barely a category 1 hurricane but was still a very devastating storm.
- lt managed to mow down 19 million trees and caused over a billion dollars in damage.
Fact 26: The man who first gave names to hurricanes was an Australian weather forecaster named C. Wragge in the early 1900s.
- For 2019, the Atlantic hurricane names are Andrea, Barry, Chantal, Dorian, Erin, Fernand, Gabrielle, Humberto, Imelda, Jerry, Karen, Lorenzo, Melissa, Nestor, Olga, Pablo, Rebekah, Sebastien, Tanya, Van, and Wendy.
Fact 27: The first hurricane of the year is given a name beginning with the letter “A”.
- Storms are named according to a phonetic alphabet (e.g., Able, Baker, Charlie).
Fact 28: Hurricane season is from June to November when the seas are at their warmest and most humid.
- These are considered the ripe conditions for a hurricane to develop.
Fact 29: The planet Jupiter has a hurricane which has been constant for over 300 years!
- It can be seen as a red spot on the planet and is even bigger than the Earth itself!
Fact 30: Project Stormfury was an organization that tried to control hurricanes by seeding them with silver iodide, with the aim of cooling down the hurricanes’ temperature.
- However, the project had little success, and most scientists have given up on the idea of controlling hurricanes.
Fact 31: There are typically fewer tropical storms during an El Niño.
- This is because ‘vertical shear’ increases during El Niño years, thus preventing tropical cyclones from forming and intensifying.
Fact 32: The El Niño phenomenon results in the warming of the equatorial Pacific Ocean waters.
- It usually occurs every 3 to 7 years and affects weather patterns around the world.
Fact 33: La Niña is the opposite of El Niño and is characterized by cooler than normal ocean waters in the tropical Pacific.
- In years with La Niña, researchers have found that there is an increased number of hurricanes and an increased chance that the United States and the Caribbean will experience hurricanes.
Fact 34: The deadliest hurricane on record is the 1970 Bhola Cyclone that wreaked havoc in Bangladesh.
- It killed between 150,000-300,000 people in the country.
Fact 35: Hurricanes have killed approximately 1.9 million people worldwide over the last 200 years.
- Proving that Hurricanes kill more people than any other type of storm.
Fact 36: 90% of all hurricane deaths are caused by storm surges.
- Storm surges can reach over 20 feet high and can extend up to 100 miles.
Fact 37: Hurricanes never form at the equator since they need the Coriolis Force to spin.
- The Coriolis Force, however, is weakest at the equator.
Fact 38: A hurricane killed 100,000 Mongols who were attacking Japan in A.D. 1281.
- The Japanese thanked their Storm Gods for the kamikaze, which means divine wind from the gods.
Fact 39: During the Galveston hurricane of 1900, nuns used ropes to tie themselves to rows of children in orphanages.
- However, the floodwater was too hard and too fast, and the nuns along with the children all perished while still being tied to each other.
Fact 40: Storms can circle each other in a phenomenon known as the Fujiwhara effect.
- However, hurricanes cannot combine together to form 1 stronger storm.
Fact 41: Though the eye is the calmest part of the storm, over the ocean, it can be the most dangerous area.
- While waves in the eye wall travel in the same direction, waves in the actual eye converge from all directions, causing rogue waves.
Fact 42: The least number of tropical storms happened in 1983 when just 4 storms formed.
- In 1982, just 2 hurricanes formed, making it the year with the least amount of hurricanes since 1968.
Fact 43: Water must be a certain depth for hurricanes to form, at least 200 feet.
- Moreover, the water must be warm, over 80º F, since a hurricane’s strength depends on how warm the water is—the warmer the water, the stronger the hurricane becomes.
Fact 44: Every year, around 10 tropical storms form over the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, and the Gulf of Mexico.
- Out of these, 6 become hurricanes.
Fact 45: In 1992, Hurricane Andrew’s outer rain bands extended 100 miles from the centre of the hurricane.
- In contrast, Hurricane Gilbert’s (1988) stretched over 500 miles.
Fact 46: According to NASA, earthquakes outnumber hurricanes every year! Approximately 85 hurricanes, typhoons, and tropical cyclones occur worldwide, while there are around 500,000 detectable earthquakes in the world each year.
- Of the 500,000 detectable earthquakes, 100,000 are strong enough to be felt by humans, and 100 of them are strong enough to cause damage.
Fact 47: It’s not uncommon to see tons of fish washed ashore during hurricanes.
- Hurricane-generated waves frequently toss tons of fish onto beaches, and the eyes of these fishes often have popped out due to sudden changes in pressure.
Fact 48: In 1994, Hurricane John lasted 31 days, which is longer than any other hurricane in history.
- It was considered both a hurricane and a typhoon because it passed through both Eastern and Western parts of the Pacific Ocean.
Fact 49: It is a common misconception that opening all the windows in your house during a hurricane will equalize the pressure in the house, so the windows won’t explode.
- Experts have argued that opening the windows will only weaken the house by allowing more wind, rain, and debris to fly in.
Fact 50: Hurricanes in the Southern Hemisphere spin in a clockwise direction.
- Hurricanes in the Northern Hemisphere, on the other hand, turn counterclockwise.