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Hurricanes


      For several hundred years, many hurricanes in the West Indies were named after the particular saint's day on which the hurricane occured. Ivan R. Tannehill describes in his book Hurricanes the major tropical storms of recorded history and mentions many hurricanes named after saints. For example, there was "Hurricane Santa Ana" which struck Puerto Rico with exceptional violence on July 26, 1825, and "San Felipe" which hit Puerto Rico on September 13 in 1876.
       Hurricane Lili Oct. 1st, 2002 Tannehill also tells of Clement Wragge, an Austrailian meteorologist, who began giving women's names to tropical storms before the end of the 19th century.




       In 1953, the United States abandoned as confusing a two-year old plan to name storms by a phonetic alphabet (Able, Baker Charlie,...etc) when a new, international phonetic alphabet was introduced. That year, the United States weather services began using female names for storms. The practice of naming hurricanes solely after women came to an end in 1978 when men's and women's names were included in the Eastern North Pacific storm lists. In 1979, male and female names were included in lists for the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico.
       Experience shows that the use of short, distinctive given names in written as well as spoken communications is quicker and less subject to error than the older more cumbersome latitude-longitude identification methods. These advantages are especially important in exchanging detailed storm information between hundreds of widely scattered stations, airports, coastal bases, and ships at sea.
       The Tropical Prediction Center near Miami, Florida, keeps a constant watch on oceanic storm-breeding areas for tropical disturbances that may herald the formation of a hurricane. If a disturbance intensifies into a tropical storm, with rotary circulation and wind speeds above 38 miles per hour, the Center will give the storm a name from of six lists. The Center uses a new set of names each year, and will retire a name after a major land-falling storm with major economic impact. Hurricane Lili Oct. 2, 2002
       The hurricane names for 2002 are as follows: Arthur, Bertha, Cristobal, Dolly, Edouard, Fay, Gustav, hanna, Isidore, Josephine, Kyle, Lili, Marco, Nana, Omar, Paloma, Rene, Sally Teddy, Vicky, and Wilfred.
       Hurricanes are measured and rated according to 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 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). Storm surge generally 4-5 ft above normal. No real 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. Hurricane Allison of 1995 and Hurricane Danny of 1997 were Category One hurricanes at peak intensity.
       Hurricane Lili Oct. 3, 2002 Category Two Hurricane: Winds 96-110 mph (83-95 kt or 154-177 km/hr). Storm surge generally 6-8 feet above normal. 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. Hurricane Bonnie of 1998 was a Category Two hurricane when it hit the North Carolina coast, while Hurricane Georges of 1998 was a Category Two Hurricane when it hit the Florida Keys and the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
       Category Three Hurricane: Winds 111-130 mph (96-113 kt or 178-209 km/hr). Storm surge generally 9-12 ft above normal. 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 tress 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 hurricane center. Flooding near the coast destroys smaller structures with larger structures damaged by battering of floating debris. Terrain continuously lower than 5 ft above mean sea level may be flooded inland 8 miles (13 km) or more. Evacuation of low-lying residences with several blocks of the shoreline may be required. Hurricanes Roxanne of 1995 and Fran of 1996 were Category Three hurricanes at landfall on the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico and in North Carolina, respectively.
       Category Four Hurricane: Winds 131-155 mph (114-135 kt or 210-249 km/hr). Storm surge generally 13-18 ft above normal. 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 hurricane center. Major damage to lower floors of structures near the shore. Terrain lower than 10 ft above sea level may be flooded requiring massive evacuation of residential areas as far inland as 6 miles (10 km). Hurricane Luis of 1995 was a Category Four hurricane while moving over the Leeward Islands. Hurricanes Felixx and Opal of 1995 also reached Category Four status at peak intensity.
       Category Five Hurricane: Winds greater than 155 mph (135 kt or 249 km/hr). Storm surge generally greater than 18 ft above normal. 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 destructon 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 hurricane center. 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. Hurricane Mitch of 1998 was a Category Five hurricane at peak intensity over the western Caribbean. Hurricane Gilbert of 1988 was a Category Five hurricane at peak intensity and is the strongest Atlantic tropical cyclone of record.



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