Hurricane Trivia, Definitions, and Names

hurricane view from space station
View of Hurricane Sandy from International Space Station

Hurricane Trivia

The earliest date in the year for a hurricane in the Atlantic basin, was January 14, in 2016.

The first documented flight into a hurricane was in 1943, when two Army Air Corps pilots challenged each other to fly through a hurricane. Major Joe Duckworth flew a single-engine plane into the eye of a hurricane.

The strongest wind gust recorded in a hurricane was in 1996 with Tropical Cyclone Olivia, just before landfall in Australia. The winds were measured at 253 mph.

Hurricanes and tropical storms spin clockwise in the southern hemisphere. In the northern hemisphere the storms spin counterclockwise.

high waves on beach pier
High waves from tropical weather offshore.

The deadliest hurricane to hit the United States was in 1900, in Galveston, Texas. 8,000 people were killed.

Every few years the remnants of a tropical system do cross Mexico or Central America, from the Gulf or Caribbean to the Pacific (or in the other direction), and redevelop into a new tropical system.

Mobile was hit by category three hurricanes 10 years apart, in 1906, 1916, and 1926.

The longest-lasting hurricane was in the Pacific Ocean. Hurricane John lasted 30 days in 1994.

The most expensive hurricane to hit the United States was Katrina, in 2005. It caused over 100 billion dollars in losses.

Up to 4 hurricanes have been observed in the Atlantic basin at the same time. That was in 1998.

The latest observed hurricane for the year in the Atlantic basin was on December 31, in 1954

Tropical Storm and Hurricane Definitions.

A Tropical Wave is a region of low pressure and cloudiness that moves from east to west in the tropics. These are a usual part of tropical weather just as we talk about highs and lows moving across the US.

A Tropical Disturbance is when thunderstorms develop and last for more than a day within a tropical wave. These are common.

An Invest is a disturbance that is being investigated by the National Hurricane Center. Invests have a number for computer tracking purposes but they should not be confused with a tropical depression that has a different number.

If the tropical disturbance shows a circulation with the thunderstorms becoming organized it is called a Tropical Depression and given a number for tracking purposes. We show it as the letter “L” on our weather maps. At this point more attention is given to it as something that may develop further.

If the winds in a tropical depression exceed 38mph it becomes a Tropical Storm and it is then given a name from a pre-selected list. The winds in a tropical storm may range from 39mph to 73mph.

hurricane in Gulf
Hurricane Isaac satellite view in Gulf of Mexico.

If the tropical storm increases wind speed to 74mph or greater it is then called a Hurricane.

A Major Hurricane has winds over 110mph, meaning category three or higher.

Maximum sustained wind is the highest wind in any part of a tropical storm or hurricane as measured or, in most cases, estimated. Most parts of a tropical storm or hurricane have a lower wind speed but there are always gusts and sometimes tornadoes that further increase the local wind.

Subtropical is used to describe tropical depressions or tropical storms that are a hybrid between tropical and non-tropical. It’s a technical distinction that doesn’t change much about the impact at landfall.

Extratropical describes a system that was a tropical storm or hurricane but either merged with a front or regular region of low pressure. These can maintain strength for a while before fully weakening.

A Watch means a certain type of hazardous weather is possible. Watch and be alert.

A Warning means the hazardous weather is imminent or happening. Take immediate action.

Storm Surge is water that is pushed toward and onto land, and up into bays and rivers by the wind circulating around a hurricane or tropical storm.

2017 Atlantic Tropical Storm & Hurricane Names


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