Caribseek | eMail

Search Caribseek   

Caribseek Caribbean Hurricanes

The official hurricane season is from June 1 through November 30 each year. On average each year, 10 tropical storms, 6 of which become hurricanes, develop in the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea or Gulf of Mexico. There are no other storms like hurricanes on earth!

A hurricane is a severe tropical storm that forms in the North Atlantic Ocean, the Northeast Pacific Ocean east of the dateline, or the South Pacific Ocean east of 160E. All hurricanes pose a risk of potential danger and destruction, some are more dangerous than others depending on storm surge, wind, rainfall and other factors.

Hurricane Definition

The name hurricane has its origin in the indigenous religions of old civilizations. The Mayan storm god was named Hunraken. A god considered evil by the Taino people of the Caribbean was called Huracan.

A hurricane is a type of tropical cyclone, that is an organized rotating weather system that develops in the tropics. Tropical cyclones are classified as follows:

  1. Tropical Depression - An organized system of clouds and thunderstorms with a defined circulation and maximum sustained winds of 38 mph (33 knots) or less.
  2. Tropical Storm - An organized system of strong thunderstorms with a defined circulation and maximum sustained winds of 39 to 73 mph (34-63 knots).
  3. Hurricane - An intense tropical weather system with a well-defined circulation and maximum sustained winds of 74 mph (64 knots) or higher. Hurricanes rotate counterclockwise in the Northern Hemisphere.

Tropical depressions and storms, while generally less dangerous than hurricanes, still can be deadly. The winds of tropical depressions and tropical storms are usually not the greatest threat. Heavy rains, flooding and severe weather, such as tornadoes, create the greatest threats from tropical storms and depressions. A tropical storm becomes a hurricane when winds reach 74 mph.

Hurricanes need warm tropical oceans, moisture and light winds above them. If the right conditions last long enough, a hurricane can produce violent winds, incredible waves, torrential rains and floods. Hurricanes rotate in a counterclockwise direction around an "eye."

When hurricanes move onto land, the heavy rain, strong winds and heavy waves can damage buildings, trees and cars. The heavy waves are called a storm surge. Storm surge is very dangerous and a major reason why you must stay away from the ocean during a hurricane.

Hurricanes are rated using The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale. The scale gives an estimate of the potential property damage and flooding expected along the coast if a hurricane were to strike.

In the western Pacific, hurricanes are called "typhoons," and similar storms in the Indian Ocean are called "cyclones".

Storm and Hurricane WATCH and WARNING

During the hurricane season the authorities will issue advisories in case of threat of a tropical storm or hurricane. The four major advisories to follow closely are:
  • Tropical Storm WATCH
    Tropical Storm conditions are possible in the specified area of the Watch, usually within 36 hours.
  • Tropical Storm WARNING
    Tropical Storm conditions are expected in the specified area of the Warning, usually within 24 hours.
  • Hurricane WATCH
    A hurricane WATCH means that hurricane conditions MAY threaten an area within 24-36 hours. When a hurricane WATCH is issued, everyone in that area should listen for further advisories and be prepared to act promptly.
    During a Hurricane WATCH, prepare to take immediate action to protect your family and property in case a Hurricane WARNING is issued.
  • Hurricane WARNING
    A hurricane WARNING is issued when hurricane conditions are expected in a specified coastal area in 24 hours or less. Hurricane conditions include winds of 74 miles an hour (64 knots) and/or dangerously high tides and waves. Complete all storm preparations and evacuate if directed by local officials.

Always stay tuned to your local radio and television stations for more information.


Tropical Satellite


Hurricane Mitch

Hurricane Mitch
Hurricane Mitch, seen here in a three-dimensional perspective, was one of the most destructive storms of the 20th century.
(Image courtesy Visual Analysis Lab, NASA GSFC)

Advertise on CaribseekHow to Submit a Site Copyright © Caribseek 2015 - All Rights Reserved