As hurricane season ramps up, MyWeather.com is offering critical information to those at risk of tropical storms and hurricanes. Here is the science behind the storms and 5 common myths debunked.
1) Myth: The area and size of a hurricane determines the severity of its impact.
Truth: The Saffir-Simpson scale categorizes hurricanes based on 1-minute sustained wind speeds. A large-sized storm doesn't necessarily have strong winds, and vice versa. Hurricane Andrew, for example – a category 5 storm – was one of the most destructive hurricanes in history, but it was also one of the smallest in size. The heaviest rains are typically produced by slow-moving storms, no matter the size or intensity. View this video from MyWeather for more information about storm categories.
2) Myth: If you're not on the coast, you don't need to be concerned about hurricanes.
Truth: Hurricanes and tropical storms can create significant damage inland. In 1995, Hurricane Opal brought high winds and flash flooding from northern Alabama to western Virginia as it moved north. View this video from MyWeather for more information on inland flooding.
3) Myth: Stronger storms produce a higher storm surge, which is the deadliest part of a hurricane.
Truth: A storm surge is a dome of water pushed ashore as the hurricane nears the coast. A storm's intensity isn't the only factor in play when it comes to storm surge. If the shape of the coastline and the storm's angle of approach are just right, a weaker storm might still produce a large surge. Other variables affecting storm surge include wind radius, forward speed and air pressure.
The dome of the storm surge moves across the shoreline as the hurricane makes landfall. During high tide, the dome can be as much as 100 miles wide and 20 feet deep. While a storm surge can be deadly, more people die from inland flooding and flash floods of rivers and streams because they underestimate the power of moving water. View this video from MyWeather to see how a storm surge works.
4) Myth: Hurricanes and typhoons are completely different types of storms.
Truth: Aside from the name, the composition of hurricanes and typhoons is exactly the same. Tropical systems with wind speeds in excess of 74 mph are called "hurricanes" in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, as well as in the Caribbean. To the west of the International Date Line, these storms are known as "typhoons." It's worth noting that the Australians have their own name for hurricanes/typhoons – they call them "willy-willys."
5) Myth: Under an evacuation order, there's no real need to evacuate until the weather gets bad.
Truth: Storm path forecasts can change rapidly, so waiting until the last minute to evacuate can leave you without an escape route. Evacuation orders are issued early enough to allow time for people to get to shelter. Even if the weather seems calm, gather what you need, secure your home and leave as soon as you can. Be sure to bring your identification, prescriptions and cash, as you may not be able to use credit cards immediately after the storm.
MyWeather.com has a new hurricane tracking tool for residents in high risk coastal areas and their loved ones.
5 Hurricane Myths Dispelled