Have you ever sat down to watch the latest weather report on a growing hurricane, but found it difficult to keep up with everything going on? 

We all know meteorologists mean well, but their frequent usage of complex terminology can leave us endlessly searching Google for definitions and understanding. Here at Protect America, we ask that you close out those Google tabs. Instead, look here for an overview of all things hurricane.

Hurricane swirling in ocean

When Is Hurricane Season?

There’s a reason hurricanes pop up more and more frequently throughout dinnertime conversations in the summer. That’s because hurricane season begins on June 1st, thanks to summer month’s hotter climate which leads to warmer water which in turn forms hurricanes. Hurricane season ends on November 30th, after cooler weather has started to roll in.   

How Do Hurricanes Form?

To better understand how hurricanes form, just think of that Uncle from Michigan who got tired of shoveling snow each winter and moved to the Caribbean. Like your Uncle, hurricanes crave warmer temperatures. They develop during interactions between warm air and warm water, therefore the odds of a hurricane forming in the Midwest is extremely unlikely because the water is not quite warm enough to create storms of such strength. 

What Are The Different Hurricane Categories?

There’s a significant difference between hurricane categories and the severity of each should be put into consideration as you and your family plan a safety protocol. 

Category 1

If a category 1 hurricane is heading your way, expect wind speeds to be anywhere between 74-95 mph. Category 1 hurricanes may be the weakest on the scale, but there is still a need for extreme caution. The winds are powerful enough to pound through a city and lightly pull apart buildings. This can form debris which is dangerous if it lands on people, pets or buildings. Power outages can also happen.    

Category 2:

The wind speeds of a category 2 hurricane average from 96 to 110 mph. The stronger the storm means greater potential for damage and danger. Hurricanes of this strength will bring flying debris, break windows and even uproot trees. Homes and buildings can fall victim to roof or siding damage while power outages lasting up to two weeks may follow.  

Category 3:

Category 3 hurricanes are beastly and strong enough to bulldoze past cities with winds ranging from 111 to 129 mph. Frame homes, mobile homes, apartment complexes and office buildings are at risk of major damage when a category 3 storm is on its way. You can prepare in advance by boarding up for protection. Destruction from flying debris is likely. Similar to category 2 storms, hurricanes of this strength can easily uproot trees and cause power outages lasting up to weeks after the storm.    

Category 4:

While it’s always a great idea to evacuate and seek shelter before any hurricane strikes, it’s especially useful to plan an evacuation before a category 4 storm. With wind speeds ranging from 130 to 156 mph, the storms are strong enough to uplift roofs and trees, destroy mobile homes, frame homes, apartment complexes and other buildings. Power outages are extremely likely and can last months.

Category 5:

As the highest level on the scale, category 5 hurricanes are, in simplest terms, devastating. Category 5 hurricanes have wind speeds averaging 157 mph or higher, which can level houses and destroy buildings of all sizes. Cities or islands on a category 5 hurricane’s path are likely to be uninhabitable for weeks to months due to the level of devastation.  

Palm trees blowing from hurricane winds

What Are Common Hurricane Terms?

A lot of foreign terminology gets thrown around when describing hurricanes. Let’s review some common phrases so you can better understand what type of storm may be heading your way. 

Hurricane Eye: 

The eye of the hurricane is its most fascinating part. The eye of a hurricane is at the center of the storm and it’s also the storm’s most peaceful section due to the low air pressure and calm winds. Clouds are not present here either.

Hurricane Eye Wall:

The hurricane eye wall is opposite of the storm’s eye because it’s the most dangerous part of the hurricane. This is where the heavy clouds and high-speed winds live. 

Hurricane Rainbands:

The hurricane’s rainbands are spirals responsible for the storm’s heavy rainfall and flooding. 

Hurricane Diameter:

Just like finding the diameter of shapes in grade school, a hurricane’s diameter is measured from one side to the other.  

Hurricane Storm Surge: 

A hurricane’s storm surge can have the most devastating impact on a city located along its path. They form when severe winds push toward the ocean’s shore, causing sea levels to rise significantly. This sends a catastrophic wave of water over any surrounding land. A storm surge is dangerous because they can produce waves reaching up to 20 feet. Storm surges can also extend for miles and miles, flooding cities 

Hurricane Warning: 

A hurricane warning is put in place when certain areas are expected to experience hurricane conditions, such as winds of 74 mph or higher. Officials typically send out hurricane warnings 36 hours before winds strike.

Hurricane Watch: 

A hurricane watch is slightly less severe than a hurricane warning because it means there is a chance hurricane conditions may occur within a certain area. You can expect to receive warning of a hurricane watch 48 hours in advance.

Image of billboard reading: "Hurricane approaching be safe"

Which States Do Hurricanes Hit Most? 

When it’s hurricane season, prepare to hear a lot about Florida, Texas, Louisiana, North Carolina and South Carolina. 

These are the top 5 states most likely to be on a hurricane’s path and it has everything to do with their proximity to all of the warm water found in the Gulf of Mexico or within the Atlantic Coast. 

How Can I Prepare For A Hurricane?

Now that you know all about hurricanes, it’s time to prepare your family for the days leading up to the hurricane’s landfall. A great first step would to shop for non-perishables, organize a hurricane kit and board the exterior of your home. 

You can find additional hurricane safety tips here: