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Hurricane Guide

Hurricane 101: 2012 season primer

TBO.com
Published:   |   Updated: March 22, 2013 at 07:30 PM

Hurricane predictions, 2012 storm names, and weather glossary.

Colorado State/Bill Gray: 15 named storms, 8 hurricanes, 4 major hurricanes

Weather Research Center: 8 named storms, 8 hurricanes, 3 major hurricanes

Weather Services Inc.: 13 named storms, 7 hurricanes, 3 major hurricanes

Accuweather: 16-18 named storms, 5 hurricanes, 2-3 major hurricanes --->

2012 Hurricane Names

Hurricane season starts June 1 and ends Nov. 30.

Alberto, Beryl, Chris, Debby, Ernesto, Florence, Gordon, Helene, Isaac, Joyce, Kirk, Leslie, Michael, Nadine, Oscar, Patty, Rafael, Sandy, Tony, Valerie, William

What makes up a hurricane?

The ingredients for a hurricane include a pre-existing weather disturbance, warm tropical oceans, moisture, and relatively light winds aloft. If the right conditions persist long enough, they can combine to produce the violent winds, incredible waves, torrential rains, and floods we associate with this phenomenon.

Each year, an average of 10 tropical storms develop over the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico. Many of these remain over the ocean. Six of these storms become hurricanes each year. In an average three-year period, roughly five hurricanes strike the United States coastline, killing approximately 50 to 100 people anywhere from Texas to Maine. Of these, two are typically "major" or "intense" hurricanes, with winds greater than 110 mph.

What is storm surge?

Storm surge is a large dome of water often 50 to 100 miles wide that sweeps across the coastline where near a hurricane makes landfall. The surge of high water topped by the waves is devastating. The stronger the hurricane and the shallower the offshore water, the higher the surge will be. Along the immediate coast, storm surge is the greatest threat to life and property.

Storm surge can be even more devastating if it hits at the same time as the astronomical tide. For example, as a hurricane moves ashore, a 15-foot surge added to the 2-foot high tide creates a storm tide of 17 feet. This mound of water topped by battering waves, moves ashore along an area of the coastline as much as 100 miles wide. The combination of storm surge, battering waves and high winds is deadly and causes great property damage.

The surge with Category One hurricanes will have its greatest impact along the immediate coastline but still impact areas a mile or two inland. The stronger the hurricane the greater the storm surge and the more inland areas will be affected.

For example, a Category Five storm surge could leave a devastating impact over 10 miles from the shoreline. Areas along rivers and streams will also feel the impact of the surge.

Differences: Warning vs. watch

A TROPICAL STORM WATCH is an announcement for specific coastal areas that tropical storm conditions are possible within 36 hours.

A TROPICAL STORM WARNING is a warning that sustained winds within the range of 34 to 63 kt (39 to 73 mph) associated with a tropical cyclone are expected in a specified coastal area within 24 hours or less.

A HURRICANE WATCH issued for your part of the coast indicates the possibility that you could experience hurricane conditions within 36 hours. This watch should trigger your family's disaster plan, and protective measures should be initiated, especially those actions that require extra time such as securing a boat, leaving a barrier island, etc.

A HURRICANE WARNING issued for your part of the coast indicates that sustained winds of at least 74 mph are expected within 24 hours or less. Once this warning has been issued, your family should be in the process of completing protective actions and deciding the safest location to be during the storm.

Source: National Hurricane Center, Media General News Service

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