HurricaneIf you’ve ever wanted to know more about hurricanes, here are some quick facts to get you started.

–  The World Meteorological Organization is responsible for naming hurricanes. They have a master list of 21 names that are recycled as each set is used up. When a major hurricane such as Katrina or Wilma occurs, that name is retired and replaced. The letters Q, U, X, Y, and Z are not used due to the limited possibilities for names. The hurricane names alternate between male and female.

–  There are five categories to classify hurricanes, based on wind speed and their potential to cause damage. The categories are as follows:

Category One:  74-95 mile per hour winds
Category Two:  96-110 mile per hour winds
Category Three:  111-130 mile per hour winds
Category Four:  131-155 mile per hour winds
Category Five:  Winds stronger than 155 miles per hour

–  An average of 45 hurricanes emerge each year, with the majority of them fading to tropical storm status before reaching land. Hurricane season lasts from June 1st to November 30th, with the strongest storms reaching land generally during the months of September and October.

–  Although there is always a risk, infectious diseases are rare after a hurricane. Non-life threatening illnesses such as gastrointestinal illness are common in areas where fresh water and electricity are unavailable, but exotic diseases such as cholera and typhoid fever are very unlikely even in extreme situations.

–  The eye of a hurricane is the center around which the high winds spin. Due to the low pressure, the air sinks down inside the eye creating a relatively calm area right in the middle of the storm. The area surrounding the eye is called the eye wall, and this is where the strongest and most destructive winds reside.

–  Most Atlantic hurricanes begin off the west coast of Africa, as simple thunderstorms. As they progress across the warm ocean waters, they pick up strong winds and rain. A hurricane will collapse and rebuild several times as it travels, picking up speed and strength along the way.

–  In the US, the state of Florida is the location most often hit by hurricanes. Over the past 100 years, there have been more than 60 hurricanes that have directly hit Florida, including the most recent devastating storm, Hurricane Wilma.

–  The word “hurricane” is a West Indian term that literally means “big wind”.

–  In the wake of a hurricane, tornadoes are often spawned. A tornado is a smaller and more intense storm that will cause extensive damage, especially in an area already ravaged and weakened by a hurricane.

–  While damages are still being assessed, all indicators point to Hurricane Katrina being the costliest hurricane to ever hit the United States in terms of property and structural damage.