Generally, the faster the wind, the more dangerous
the storm. As wind speed increases, the wind can
pick up and carry heavier and heavier objects as
you know if you've ever tried to wear a hat on a
windy day! Meterologists rate storms accordingly:
Tropical depressions have windspeeds of
less than 39 miles per hour (mph)
storms have windspeeds between 40 & 73 mph
Hurricanes are the biggest and most dangerous
storms, with windspeeds greater than 74 mph.
Other names for hurricanes are typhoons and
separated into five categories, with Category 1
hurricanes the weakest and Category 5 hurricanes
the strongest with windspeeds of 156 mph or
The mainland United States has
only been struck twice by Category 5 hurricanes:
the Florida Key hurricane in 1935, and Hurricane
Camille in 1969. Hurricane Andrew, which hit
Florida in 1992, was the third-strongest hurricane
in US history.
Sometimes, however, storms
that aren't blowing very fast can still cause a
lot of damage if they bring a lot of rain. This
was the case for Hurricane Mitch last year, which
was only a tropical storm by the time it made
landfall, but rained so much in Honduras and
Guatemala that over 10,000 people were killed by
floods and landslides.
The invention of
weather satellites and sophisticated computer
models now allow us track and predict the paths of
major hurricanes, making it more possible to warn
people in time to evacuate.
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