15 Gripping Facts About Hurricanes

As Hurricane Harvey keeps on the catastrophic dance over the southeastern Texas, we feel helpless at the fury of nature. Harvey has ended a record 12-year period with no hurricanes of Category 3 intensity or higher making landfall in the United States.


Hurricanes have unleashed their wrath over the United States from time to time. Though we have advanced our understanding and are better prepared than ever to handle the emergency, we are far from stopping loss of human lives and property. Post Hurricane recovery takes years and by then we have another monster standing at our doors.

Here are 15 intriguing facts about the Hurricanes.

1. Female hurricanes might be deadlier than male hurricanes

A controversial study concluded that female-named hurricanes have been about twice as deadly compared to male hurricanes due to gender bias. One of the study’s pivotal findings is that sexism is ingrained in our thought processes.  Madhu Viswanathan, professor of marketing at Illinois and co-author of the study said “we found that people were affected by the gender of hurricane names.” The study though questioned by several meteorologists has a number of advocates. Source

What Hurricane Harvey looks like from space (Image Source)

2. The National Hurricane Center receives a dozen e-mails a month with suggestions for names of tropical storms

People have ‘preferences’ for naming Hurricanes. However, the system for giving names to hurricanes is far too formal for any attention to be paid to these casual requests. For example, the names used in the Atlantic Basin (The Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, and Gulf of Mexico) come from six lists that are used over and over except for names of especially deadly or costly storms that are retired. New names are added only to replace retired names. Source

The names on each year’s list alternate between male and female: That way, you’ll never have two storms of the same gender back to back.

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3. Hurricane or no hurricane, work is work

During Hurricane Isabel in 2003 which hit the Atlantic Coast of the United States, Sentries charged with guarding the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia spent the entire night out in the weather rather than leave their posts. The tomb which holds remains from World War I, World War II, and the Korean War is guarded 24 hours a day and 365 days a year by specially chosen soldiers. Source

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4. Climate change could be upgrading hurricanes to dangerous levels

For the first time in recorded history, in 2015, three Category 4 hurricanes were reported to form over the Pacific Ocean. Three separate Category 4 hurricanes were active at the same time in the Eastern and Central Pacific Ocean in August 2015, marking the first ever recorded instance of such an event. Hurricane Kilo, Hurricane Ignacio, and Hurricane Jimena all reached Category 4 status at various points. Scientists linked the unusual event with climate change. Source

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5. Some people could feel catastrophe before it strikes

Gary Szatkowski, meteorologist-in-charge at the National Weather Service office in Mount Holly, is credited with providing the incredibly accurate forecast of the strength and path of Hurricane Sandy, the worst storm in the state’s modern history. He is credited with saving thousands of lives. He issued some of the strongest warnings that anyone in the weather community had seen from a meteorologist in his position. Most computer models had Sandy moving harmlessly out to sea. Source

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6. Weatherman named cyclones on names of people he particularly disliked

The pioneering Australian weatherman Clement Wragge began assigning names to tropical cyclones in the late 19th century, initially using the letters of the Greek alphabet and characters from Greek and Roman mythology. An eccentric and playful fellow, he later turned to the names of local politicians he particularly disliked; as a result, he was able to state in public forecasts that the officials were “causing great distress” or “wandering aimlessly about the Pacific.” Source

7. Hurricanes bring forth the best in the people.

Some 200 Ugandan women who earn $1.20 per day breaking rocks into the gravel in Kampala donated $900 to the U.S. victims of Hurricane Katrina. Some of the women were AIDS patients. They were only requested to pray for the affected people, but they voluntarily donated their earnings from mining wages, the sale of bananas, necklaces, and small chairs. Source

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8. Pets are family and there is nothing more important than to protect yours

During Hurricane Katrina, some people did not evacuate and chose to stay because they did not want their pets to be left behind. Hence, in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, it became necessary to issue a mandatory evacuation of citizens who stayed behind to weather the storm. Source

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9. The term ‘Hurricane’ has Mayan root

The Mayan God of wind and storms was called Jun Raqan pronounced as ‘Huracan’. The might God was responsible for the Great Flood after the second generation of humans angered the gods. Source

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10. The deadliest Atlantic Hurricane occurred right in between the American Revolution

The Great Hurricane of 1780, called as Huracán San Calixto struck in 1780. It is hailed as the deadliest Atlantic Hurricane ever. It cost between 20,000 and 22,000 human lives. The hurricane produced violent winds “so deafening that people could not hear their own voices.” The hurricane stripped the bark off trees and left none standing on the island. Source

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11. The student got it right!

When an architecture student alerted engineers that an NYC skyscraper, Citicorp Center (now called 601 Lexington) might collapse in an upcoming storm (Hurricane Ella), the city kept it secret then reinforced the building overnight (while police developed a ten-block evacuation plan).

The student found that the building was particularly vulnerable to quartering winds (winds that strike the building at its corners). He called the chief structural engineer, William LeMessurier who when checked the math found that the student was right. Source

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12. Wal-Mart did their homework.

Before a hurricane, Walmart will fill their stores with strawberry pop tarts. This is a result of their data mining and finding stores sold 7x more strawberry pop tarts before the storm. The analytical approach was pioneered by CIO Linda M. Dillman who made her staff dig up trillions of bytes of shopper history data to ‘start predicting what is going to happen’. Source

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13. Voodoo practicing community was reduced to just 10% after Hurricane Katrina.

According to locals, the voodoo community was 2,500 to 3,000 people strong before Katrina, but after that number was reduced to around 300. After their number came down, different voodoo traditions and communities were actually started amalgamating. Prior to the storm, celebrations and ceremonies were racially segregated. Source

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14. Noah the movie was delayed due to ‘heavy rain and flooding’ on location from Hurricane Sandy

As ironical it can get, Noah (2014) was delayed in production during Hurricane Sandy during late October 2012. Source

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15. Hurricanes have more energy than all of the nuclear bombs in the world combined

Hurricanes release more energy in 10 minutes than all of the nuclear bombs in the world combined. Though the energy of the hurricane is spread over a much larger volume than that of a nuclear explosion (so hurricane energy per unit volume is smaller), and it is released over a much longer period of time. Source

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