Hurricane development can be incredibly complicated. But certain ingredients must come together in order for them to happen.

First, we need a tropical wave. This is basically like a ripple in the air pressure. These commonly come off of the coast of Africa. Thunderstorms form along a tropical wave.

Next, we need hot water temperatures. During the month of August and September, the Atlantic and the Caribbean are like a bathtub. Some of the hottest water in the world can be found here. This is fuel for any hurricane.

Along that tropical wave and over the hot water, thunderstorm development often happens. And as long as we have low wind shear, these thunderstorms can become a tropical system. Low wind shear means that the winds are calm all throughout the atmosphere around the thunderstorms. Under the right conditions, a cluster of storms will turn into a hurricane.

We rate hurricanes by their wind speed.

Category 1: Minimal damage with wind speeds of 74 to 95 mph.

Category 2: Extensive damage with wind speeds of 96 to 110 mph.

Category 3: Devastating damage with wind speeds of 111 to 129 mph.

Category 4: Catastrophic damage with winds of 130 to 156 mph.

Category 5: Catastrophic damage. Unrecognizable coastlines. Wind speeds of 157 mph and higher.

But it isn’t just the wind that does damage. The storm surge is the deadliest aspect of any hurricane. We hear this term a lot. But what does it mean?

It’s where the hurricane’s powerful wind and energy force water in dangerous amounts onto land past what’s considered normal. The stronger the hurricane, the higher the surge can be. Nearly 90% of deaths from a hurricane come from rising water. We often think of the wind as the biggest threat of a hurricane when the rising water is even more dangerous.

Even after the hurricane coverage leaves the news cycle. A coastline can be changed forever.
The average cost of a hurricane is $2.5 billion.

Ways you can help: