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Hurricane History

According to the article Exploring Florida, University of South Florida a hurricane is described as a tropical storm over warm ocean waters with warm moist air moving towards the centre of the storm and spiraling upwards rotating in a counter clockwise direction around an “eye” with wind speeds of atleast 74 miles per hour. The hurricane strengthens once it comes into contact with land or cooler water and causes extensive damage on land to buildings and trees.

Hurricanes can be categorized on the basis of their wind speeds and potential to cause damage into following five types: 1. Category 1: Winds 74-95 miles per hour 2. Category 2: Winds 96-110 miles per hour 3. Category 3: Winds 111-130 miles per hour 4. Category 4: Winds 131-155 miles per hour 5. Category 5: Winds greater than 155 miles per hour According to Sandrik and Landsea, though records are available for storms from as early as 1565 the major storms which had become part of the local history were in the years 1804, 1806, 1813, 1824, 1837, 1854, 1896 and 1898.

According to Wikipedia the free encyclopedia, Florida suffered from hurricanes in the following years with name and category mentioned in brackets: 1906(Florida Keys Hurricane – category 3), 1926 (Great Miami Hurricane – category 4), 1928 (Okeechobee Hurricane – category 4), 1935 (Labor Day Hurricane – category 5), 1944 (Sanibel Island Hurricane – category 3), 1947 (Fort Lauderdale Hurricane – category 4), 1950 (Hurricane Easy – category 3), 1950 (Hurricane King – category 3), 1960 (Hurricane Donna – category 4), 1964 (Hurricane Cleo – category 2), 1964 (Hurricane Dora – category 2), 1975 (Hurricane Eloise – category 3), 1992 (Hurricane Andrew – category 5), 1995 (Hurricane Opal – category 3), 2004 (Hurricane Charley – category 4), 2004 (Hurricane Frances – category 2), 2004 (Hurricane Ivan – category 3), 2004 (Hurricane Jeanne – category 3), 2005 (Hurricane Dennis – category 3), and 2005 (Hurricane Wilma – category 3). According to University of South Florida some of the worst hurricanes to hit Florida were 1906 – Florida Keys Hurricane, 1926 – Great Miami Hurricane, 1928 – Okeechobee Hurricane, 1935 – Labor Day Hurricane, 1960 – Hurricane Donna and 1992 – Hurricane Andrew).

Provenzo and Fradd stated in their book that Florida has been the worst affected by hurricanes than any other parts of the country. Fifty four of 151 major hurricanes hit Florida between 1900 to 1989 and according to statistics four of the five major storms in the century had hit Florida coast with Southern Florida being the “most hurricane prone region of the US. ” According to Wikipedia the free encyclopedia, historically an earlier category 4 hurricane to hit Dade county was the Great Miami Hurricane in 1926 with a central pressure of 935 millibars (mb) and sustained winds of 135 mph killing more than 200 people and damage toll soaring to over $100 million.

The worst and strongest was a category 5 Labor Day Hurricane in 1935 which struck Florida Keys and the pressure was 892 millibars (mb) with a storm surge of 15-20 feet water on various islands killing more than 400 people. Let us consider Hurricane Andrew as an example to understand the extensive damage caused and the measures taken to minimize the loss of human life. According to Natural Disaster Survey Report, the Hurricane Andrew was third strongest in this century that US had faced and was classified at the upper threshold of category 4 on Saffir Simpson intensity scale. “The estmated central pressure at landfall in Florida was 922 millibars (mb). ” Although destruction was extensive the number of deaths were considered minimal probably due to accurate forecasts, effective preparations and limited effect due to storm surge.

The storm first crossed Florida on August 22, 1992 at 8 AM EDT later it weakened and gained strength to cross the coast on August 24, 1992 at 5:05 AM EDT near Homstead Airforce Base (AFB), Florida. The storm was unusually compact. An aircraft penetration less than an hour before landfall showed that hurricane-force winds were confined to region approximately 30 nautical miles (nm) in radius, with peak observed winds of 162 knots (kts) (186 mph) at a flight level of 10,000 feet. The maximum sustained 1-minute surface (10-meter elevation) winds over southern Florida were approximately 125 kts (144 mph). According to Sun-Sentinel archives Bob Sheets director, National Hurricane Center in Coral Gables stated “We’re going to see something down here that I hoped I’d never experience. ”

Hurricane specialist Lixion Avila stated “The eye is definitely going to hit somewhere in South Florida, wherever the eye hits will be leveled. This is going to be the worst. There is no chance that this would not hit us. It would have to take a miracle. ” Paul Hebert, meteorologist in charge of the National Weather Service Office in Miami stated “It is very close to our worst-case scenario. ” Thousands of residents were evacuated and by early afternoon Florida’s Turnpike highway was packed and was backed up from Lantana to Sunrise Boulevard. Whereas some chose to remain in South Florida and settled in at shelters, but not many turned in as expected by the officials.

Concluding the paper I would like to state that Florida has had a worst history of Hurricanes and preventive measures had its own impact with reduction in number of deaths though damage to property is not avoidable, steps may be initiated to think in this direction by constructing buildings with cheaper construction material. Newer scientific methods and techniques need to be developed to pinpoint the landfall so as to effect evacuation of population of a particular area rather then moving the whole population thus avoiding situations of packing of highways. I would also like to include some pictures of Hurricane Andrew (Source: Sun Sentinel) to depict the impact pictorially.

This water tower, a landmark at Florida City, Fla. , stands Aug. 25, 1992, over the ruins of the community that was hit by the force of Hurricane Andrew. The tower along with much of the town was later replaced. Andrew, the most costly natural disaster in U. S.history, destroyed 80 percent of the taxable real estate in Florida City. (AP Photo/File) (Source: Sun Sentinel) Hurricane Andrew destroyed Black Point Marina on Biscayne Bay in Miami. (Carl Seibert/Sun-Sentinel) (Source: Sun Sentinel)


Al Sandrik and Christopher W. Landsea. Chronological Listing of Tropical Cyclones affecting North Florida and Coastal Georgia 1565-1899 (2003). Retrieved on September 02, 2006 from: http://www. aoml. noaa. gov/hrd/Landsea/history/index. html Catastrophic Florida hurricanes: 1900-1960 and Catastrophic Florida hurricanes: 1961- present. Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (2006). Retrieved on September 05, 2006 from: http://en.

wikipedia. org/wiki/Catastrophic_Florida_hurricanes:_1900-1960 http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Catastrophic_Florida_hurricanes:_1961-present Eugene F. Provenzo, Jr. and Sandra H. Fradd. Hurricane Andrew, The Public Schools, and the Rebuilding of Community (1995). Exploring Florida: A Social Studies Resource for Students and Teachers. University of South Florida (2002). Retrieved on September 02, 2006 from: http://fcit. usf. edu/florida/lessons/hurricane/hurricane. htm Natural Disaster Survey Report. Hurricane Andrew: South Florida & Louisiana, August 23-26, 1992. Issued by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) (November 1993).

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