You’ll remember from your study of The Art of War that to defeat your enemy, you must know your enemy. You must gird your loins first with knowledge!
Hurricanes usually start out as tropical waves: relatively small, low pressure storm systems that move westward through the tropics. As warm ocean air rises over the water, a low pressure area forms below it. As the pressure lowers, more air rushes in, rises, and cools, which creates clouds and thunderstorms within the system.
Now the fun begins! Internal winds pick up speed and our little friend becomes a tropical storm. When wind speeds reach 74mph, the storm is officially classified as a hurricane. In extreme cases, you might feel that stormy wind as far as 150 miles away from the center of the storm. Tropical storms can also bring the ruckus, but these higher wind speeds are key to the chaos and damage we associate with hurricanes.
As the hurricane’s low pressure draws in moisture as it moves and grows, the moisture rises and condenses into heavy rains. These persistent rains can cause disastrous flooding for many miles as the hurricane moves. Storm surge and flooding mean that as many as 88% of hurricane deaths in the U.S. are attributable to water rather than wind. A hurricane is not a great time to check out the beach, to say the least.
But who’s really most at risk? And won’t we have time to prepare when the time comes? I’m so glad you asked.