Hurricanes by the strength of their high wind speed, causes maximum havoc to life and property damage. Another powerful manifestation in the heavy flooding that occurs from the oceanic storm surge and the torrential rain that causes many people to die from drowning and washes away billion worth of property.
The Saffir Simpson scale has classified hurricanes based on their intensity into five categories. Though the first two categories are mild and moderate, respectively; the category 3 is extensive, with the fourth one being extreme while the fifth category is catastrophic.
There have been three Category 5 storms since data keeping came into effect. The first one is the Labor Day Hurricane in 1935 which damaged a fair part of Florida Keys and resulted in 600 deaths. The second one happened in 1969 in the form of Hurricane Camille, that devastated the Mississippi Coast killing 257 people. The Andrew Hurricane in 1992 also impacted South Florida adversely. Hurricane Katrina in 2005 is a memory still afresh among people. Mitch in 1998 and Gilbert in 1988 were also destructive.
The most dangerous hurricane in the US was Galveston storm back in 1900 which killed between 9000 and 12000 people, wiping out the city in the process. Economically speaking, Hurricane Katrina is the worst for the US, with losses running into billions of dollars. It devastated Louisiana and south-west Mississippi and flooded New Orleans, resulting in the killing of 1, 2000 people while thousands of others were rendered homeless. There have been other hurricanes too like Hugo (1989) in South Carolina. Opal (1995) and Rita (2005) in Louisiana and Texas that have causes losses to the tune of billions of dollars.
Tropical storms have caused a lot of damage outside US too. For instance, the tropical cyclone in Bay of Bengal in 1970 killed 3,00,000 people in Bangladesh while more than 1,28,000 people died due to cyclone in Myanmar in the Andaman Seas in 2008.
The hurricanes have winds that can topple strong vehicles in a matter of seconds, pull down trees, bring down buildings and destroy virtually anything that comes in their trajectory. The winds push a water wall called storm surge and if this happens during a high tide, this can lead to significant amount of inland flooding, which means all the homes and offices around the coastal area can be impacted.
Since tropical storms and hurricanes are natural disasters, we can only be better prepared so that we are not caught unawares. These come in the form of hurricane watches and warnings that are given with better systems and technology like real –time satellite imagery. For instance, a hurricane watch is given when there is a chance of hurricane conditions developing within 24 to 36 hours. A hurricane warning is given when the hurricane wind is blowing at a speed of 74 miles per hour and is expected to hit the area within 24 hours. It is thus better to be better prepared and take actions for safe evacuation if you are living in an area that is prone to hurricane damage.