Hey Maine - Hurricane Season Is Here
We know it may be hard to believe… but hurricane season is here.
Honestly, nobody really even wants to think about it… heck you just probably opened your camp for the season… or you finally got your boat in the water.
Not to mention, that Maine has been lucky these last few years when it comes to hurricanes…
But, the truth is, the season is here… the Atlantic hurricane season actually began on June 1st.
Being prepared is half the battle… especially when it comes to recovering from a major storm like a hurricane.
To that end, we are putting together a ‘storm’ series here on our blog to give you all the information you need to help you understand hurricanes and to be ready in case the mid-coast area suffers the effects of a hurricane in the next few months.
So, with that… let’s kick this thing off…
The Anatomy of a Hurricane
If you’ve lived in Maine for any length of time, you’ve heard of hurricanes. For that matter, you've probably experienced one or two of them first hand.
But what exactly is a hurricane?
A hurricane is a type of tropical cyclone that occurs specifically in the Atlantic Ocean.
Tropical cyclones are a particular type of storm, characterized by their rapid, circular rotation and low-pressure center (known as the “eye of the storm”). They are also defined by strong, potentially destructive winds greater than 74 miles per hour that in extreme cases can reach up to 200 miles per hour.
We’ve all seen the familiar ‘pinwheel’ traveling up the east coast of the U.S. on our local weather stations.
Hurricanes are very large storms and often have diameters of over 60 miles, some larger storm have even had diameters upwards of 400 miles across. At the edges of the circular hurricane wind speeds are at their mildest and may be nearly calm, with the storm becoming stronger and more intense as you approach the center.
The most dangerous part of the storm is known as the “eye wall” which surrounds the center or “eye” of the storm; it is here that wind velocity is at its greatest and the most damage is likely to occur.
By contrast, the “eye” itself is clear as the air will sink and prevent the formation of clouds. This is but a short reprieve before the rest of the storm passes over.
Typically, hurricanes are formed by the evaporation of water, rising from the surface of the ocean. When this moisture reaches the colder parts of the atmosphere it cools and condenses into large rain clouds.
These clouds moving along the relatively flat surface of the ocean generate static electricity, creating thunder and lightning, and begin to rotate based on their hemispheric location.
In the Norther Hemisphere hurricanes rotate counter clockwise and in the Southern Hemisphere they rotate clockwise. This is called the Coriolis Effect … and no… it does not affect the direction your toilet flushes… no matter what your schoolyard friends told you as a kid.
Hurricanes are a type of tropical storm and as such are generally only found in tropical areas of the Western Atlantic such as the Caribbean and the Southern United States. Tropical cyclones, as a more general term, can be found in any tropical area around the world.
Hurricanes require the warm water found in tropical areas to exist, so as they move over land and cooler water hurricanes tend to lose strength.
So, often lower category hurricanes that reach as far north as New England will often began to dissipate as the storm travels over land and the cooler North Atlantic waters nearest us.
Hurricanes are also rated on a five category scale called the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale. This scale only takes into account wind velocity.
The scale breaks down as follows:
- Category 1 will have winds ranging from 74 to 95 mph
- Category 2 will have winds ranging from 96 to 110 mph
- Category 3 will have winds ranging from 111 to 130 mph
- Category 4 will have winds ranging from 131 to 155 mph
- Category 5 will be anything with winds greater than 155 mph
We will discuss more about the classification of hurricanes later in this series.
Damaging Effects of Hurricanes
Because of the high winds and heavy rainfall associated with hurricanes, they can be very dangerous to both yourself and your property. Trees may be damaged or even be uprooted, any objects can become projectiles as winds increase and heavy rainfall can result in overfull rivers and flooding.
In certain circumstances with particularly severe hurricanes, those living in the path of a hurricane may be told to evacuate for their own safety and designated shelters are created.
We will discuss more about the effects experienced by hurricanes later on in this series.
Preparation Steps You Can Start Today
Given the destruction hurricanes can cause, taking precautions during hurricane season to protect yourself, your family, your home and business from injury and damage is a step in the right direction.
While we will discuss safety tips in greater detail later in this series, one thing you can do now is reaching out to your local restoration professionals at SERVPRO of Belfast/Camden/Rockland and let us set up an Emergency Ready Profile (ERP).
The ERP is a free service we offer to Belfast, Camden, Rockland and surrounding areas to help you, our friends and neighbors, have critical information at your fingertips during an emergency.
You can get more hurricane information the Maine Emergency Management Agency (MEMA).
You can reach us at 207-338-1850.