With Atlantic hurricane season well underway, it's important to be prepared for whatever storm might hit your area. The devastation left by Hurricane Harvey in Texas, and the destruction Hurricane Irma left in the Leeward Islands has caused multiple people to panic. Many have shared false information and articles based on unverified sources all over social media, which poses a dangerous threat to the safety and wellbeing of those preparing for storms. Here are some of the most common myths that circulate, and the actual truth behind them.
1. Category 6 doesn’t exist.
This is #fakenews. The Washington Post reports that although meteorologists have discussed adding a Category 6 to the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale, such a change doesn’t seem imminent or actually considered. So far, Category 5 is considered to be the strongest, or “most capable of inflicting catastrophic damage,” so there’s no need to add a sixth category.
2. Taping your windows won’t do anything.
According to a 2012 survey from the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes, almost seven in 10 people believed that using tape on windows and glass doors would be enough to protect them. It is absolutely not. This myth came to be when the practice was featured as an acceptable means of protection in hurricane preparedness brochures of the 1970’s. Although it was removed in the 1980’s, people continue to be misinformed and neglect to fully protect their windows. The best way to do that is to use plywood or shutters to board them up.
3. The biggest claimer of lives during hurricanes isn’t wind, it’s water.
According to The Weather Channel, 88 percent of hurricane-related deaths are caused by water. Most of the blame falls on “storm surge,” or the water rise generated by a hurricane or tropical storm.
4. Warm water around land is only one factor that intensifies hurricanes.
Warm SST (sea-surface temperature) does not guarantee that a storm will intensify. In 2013, SST were warmer than usual, but “a steady diet of dry air and wind shear” did not allow for storm development between Africa and the western Caribbean. Just because the water is warm, does not always mean that the storm will get stronger.
5. Tropical storms are actually a pretty big deal.
Just because a tropical storm isn’t a hurricane, doesn’t mean that it can’t cause as much damage. Although they don’t always carry the same high winds or storm surges, tropical storms can cause serious flooding. In fact, The Weather Channel reports that both Tropical Storm Debby and Hurricane Isaac (which didn’t get hurricane status until just before it made landfall in Louisiana in 2012) did generate impactful storm surge.
6. Hurricanes don’t just happen in the Caribbean.
They can also develop in the Pacific ocean and hit the West Coast. Plus, don’t forget that Superstorm Sandy hit the Northeast hard in 2012, too. She went from Jamaica, to Haiti, to Cuba, all up the East Coast of the United States, and then made landfall again in New York and New Jersey.
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