The Greatest Storm on Earth
Few things in nature can compare to the destructive force of a hurricane. Hurricanes, the greatest storm on Earth, is capable of annihilating coastal areas with sustained winds of 155 miles per hour or higher, intense areas of rainfall, and a storm surge.
Hurricanes form over tropical waters in areas of high humidity, light winds, and warm sea surface temperatures. During development, certain characteristics become more prominent as the storm strengthens. At the center of the hurricane is the eye, a cloud-free area of sinking air and light winds that is usually from 10 to 65 kilometers in diameter. As air rises in the thunderstorms surrounding the eye, some of it is forced towards the center, where it converges and sinks.The eye is the calmest part of the storm because the strong surface winds converging towards the center never actually reach the exact center of the storm, but instead form a cylinder of relatively calm air. Bordering the eye of a hurricane is the eye wall, a ring of tall thunderstorms that produce heavy rains and very strong winds. The most destructive section of the storm is in the eye wall on the side where the wind blows in the same direction as the storm’s forward motion.
As a hurricane moves closer to land, coastal communities begin to feel the effects of heavy rain, strong winds, and tornadoes. It’s most destructive weapon is the accompanying storm surge, a rise on the ocean level of up to about 33 feet. When a hurricane approaches the coast, an 80-160 kilometer wide dome of ocean water sweeps over the coastline. Storm surges have demolished marinas, piers, boardwalks, houses, and other shoreline structures while eroding beaches and washing out coastal roads and railroads.
In the early 1970s a classification system was designed to quantify the level of damage and flooding expected from a hurricane. This system is called the Saffir-Simpson Scale and consists of 5 categories with 1 being the weakest and 5 being the strongest. The scale corresponds to a hurricane’s central pressure, maximum sustained winds, and storm surge. Categories 3, 4, and 5 are considered major hurricanes, capable of inflicting great damage and loss of life.
As a Certified Large Loss Response Team Franchise, SERVPRO of Glendora/San Dimas has access to Semi-truck Trailers of emergency equipment and hundreds of experienced personnel to assist any communities affected by hurricanes in a moment’s notice.