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Disaster Survival 101: Hurricane's

Hurricane's also known as cyclones and typhoons in various parts of the world cause high winds, flooding, heavy rain and storm surges in the form of high tidal waves.

Hurricane Bertha became the second storm in 2014.
Photo by NASA/Getty Images

Hurricane's are tropical cyclone's with sustained winds that have reached speeds of 74 mph or higher. These storms are classified as a hurricane only after they've strengthened over a period of days or even weeks, according to The Weather Channel. Hurricane's are usually named alphabetically each year. There are four stages of storms that eventually become a hurricane:

  1. Tropical disturbance – a weather system of clouds, showers and thunderstorms that originates in the tropics and remains intact for 24 hours or longer.
  2. Tropical depression – a closed circulation like counter-clockwise winds develops around a center of low barometric pressure. There are usually one-minute winds of 38 mph (33 knots) or less at an elevation of 10 meters.
  3. Tropical storm – is a tropical cyclone given a name by the National Hurricane Center. These storms have maximum sustained one-minute winds of 39-73 mph (34-63 knots) at an elevation of 10 meters.
  4. Hurricane – has sustained winds of at least 74 mph (64 knots) at an elevation of 10 meters with these winds possibly becoming stronger as the storm moves inland from the sea.

Hurricane's are categorized on the Saffir-Simpson hurricane wind scale of 1 to 5 based on their wind speed. The scale is named after Herbert Saffir and Meterologist Dr. Robert Simpson. Usually, an “eye” forms when the tropical cyclone reaches hurricane strength, but an eye is not necessary for a cyclone to develop into a hurricane.

Emergency Preparedness

If you live in a hurricane prone area, plan ahead. Since hurricane's can potentially interrupt power, gas and water supplies you should consider stocking the following items including food and medicine, safety items, personal care items and an emergency car kit that are all stored together in an easily accessible place:

  • Clean containers of water (at least 5 gallons of water per person to last 3 to 5 days)
  • A 3 to 5 day supply of canned and dried food including baby food or formula and can opener
  • Prescription medicines
  • First aid kit with instructions
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Batter-powered radio and a NOAA weather radio
  • Flashlights with extra batteries
  • Sleeping bags or extra blankets
  • Supplies to make drinking water safe (iodine or chlorine bleach tablets)
  • Hand sanitizer and wet cleaning cloths like baby wipes
  • Soap
  • Toothpaste
  • Tampons and pads
  • Diapers
  • Flares
  • Jumper or booster cables
  • Maps
  • Tools including a roadside emergency kit
  • GPS, smart-phone or cellphone
  • Cash because ATM's and POS terminals may be offline

For more information and how to prepare for a hurricane or any type of natural disaster, visit the Ready.gov website or contact your local American Red Cross.