Hurricanes are nature's most powerful storms and can wreak havoc hundreds of miles from the coastal area where they make landfall. The four major hazards from hurricanes include: storm surge, high winds, tornadoes, and heavy rains.
Here is a closer look at those hurricane hazards:
- High winds from 74mph to 200mph or more. Even the weakest hurricane can damage buildings, flood roads, and uproot trees. The strongest storms can destroy buildings and property. Hurricane force winds have downed trees and power lines as far inland as 175 miles.
- Storm surge is an increase in sea level caused by extreme low pressure and very high winds. Storm surge is a dome of high water sometimes 50 to 100 miles wide that sweeps over the coastline as a hurricane makes landfall. The stronger the wind, the higher the storm surge and storm surge occurring in combination with high tides makes the threat even worse. Nine out of every ten people killed by a hurricane are drowned in storm surge.
- Tornadoes are often spawned by hurricanes. These can occur well away from the center of the hurricane. They can also occur near the eye of the storm.
- Flooding caused by the torrential rains can occur in both coastal and inland areas. The slower the storm moves, the greater the flooding may be. Tropical Storm Claudette in 1979 dumped 45 inches of rain near Alvin, Texas. In 2001, Tropical Storm Allison dumped 36 inches of rain on Harris County. The heaviest rainfall can occur 200 miles away from the center of the storm.