facts about hurricanes

21 Things You Should Know about Hurricanes

As Hurricane Irene sets its eye on the East Coast, use our facts about hurricanes to maintain safe shelter, food, and water.

By Emily Main and Leah Zerbe


21 Things You Should Know about Hurricanes

More than two inches of rain in a day could mean flooding.

RODALE NEWS, EMMAUS, PA—As Hurricane Irene threatens the East Coast, government officials are shutting down public transit and ordering evacuations from North Carolina to low-lying areas of New York City. But before the storm strikes, tap these facts about hurricanes … they just might save your life! Or give you something to talk about when you're boarding up your windows.

General Facts about Hurricanes:

1. The latest hurricane, Hurricane Irene, is not your typical storm. On Friday, President Obama said it has the makings of an "historic hurricane." Climate scientists say climate change plays a role in these extreme storms. Irene is unusual in that covers a huge range and holds lots of moisture, compared to other storms.

2. More than two inches of rain a day can cause flooding. Some areas in Hurricane Irene's path could see at least a foot of rain as the storm system passes through.

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Stronger Storms: How Climate Chaos Is Hammering Your Health

3. Every second, a large hurricane releases the energy of 10 atomic bombs.

4. Most people who die in hurricanes are killed by the towering walls of seawater that come inland, so heed evacuation warnings and avoid waterfronts if you can.

5. Hurricanes can release more than 2.4 trillion gallons of rain a day.

6. According to NASA satellites, the size of Hurricane Irene is now 700 miles wide, about one-third the size of the entire East Coast of the U.S.

Health and Food Safety During a Hurricane:

7. Left unopened, a refrigerator will keep food cold for about four hours after losing electrical power.

8. Coffee filters can help purify tap water after a storm. If your tap water is cloudy, pour it through a fresh coffee filter until the cloudiness goes away. Then boil it for at least one full minute before drinking or using it for cooking. (But follow local emergency management orders; if they tell you tap water isn't safe to drink, a coffee filter isn't going to make it safer.)

Published on: August 26, 2011
Updated on: August 28, 2011

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