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Hurricanes
Hurricane Basics
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Hurricane Basics

Hurricane Basics
Photo Credit: AP Photo/NOAA
This NOAA satellite image taken Monday, Aug. 20, 2007 at 12:45 PM EDT shows Hurricane Dean. Dean spared the Cayman Islands the worst of its fury on Monday as it headed for a collision course with Mexico's resort-dotted Caribbean coast, sending tourists fleeing for the airports and locals searching for higher ground. Dean was already a powerful Category 4 storm as it raked the Cayman Islands. The U.S. National Hurricane Center said it could grow into a monstrous Category 5 hurricane before slashing across the Yucatan Peninsula and emerging in the oil-rich Gulf of Campeche. Eight people have died so far in the Caribbean. (AP Photo/NOAA)

Hurricane Basics

The ingredients for a hurricane include a pre-existing weather disturbance, warm tropical oceans, moisture, and relatively light winds aloft. If the right conditions persist long enough, they can combine to produce the violent winds, incredible waves, torrential rains, and floods we associate with this phenomenon.
Each year, an average of ten tropical storms develop over the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, and Gulf of Mexico. Many of these remain over the ocean and never impact the U.S. coastline. Six of these storms become hurricanes each year. In an average 3-year period, roughly five hurricanes strike the US coastline, killing approximately 50 to 100 people anywhere from Texas to Maine. Of these, two are typically "major" or "intense" hurricanes (a category 3 or higher storm on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale).
What is a Hurricane?
A hurricane is a type of tropical cyclone, which is a generic term for a low pressure system that generally forms in the tropics. The cyclone is accompanied by thunderstorms and, in the Northern Hemisphere, a counterclockwise circulation of winds near the earth's surface. Tropical cyclones are classified as follows:
* Sustained winds
A 1-minute average wind measured at about 33 ft (10 meters) above the surface.
** 1 knot = 1 nautical mile per hour or 1.15 statute miles per hour. Abbreviated as "kt".
Tropical Depression
An organized system of clouds and thunderstorms with a defined surface circulation and maximum sustained winds* of 38 mph (33 kt**) or less
Tropical Storm
An organized system of strong thunderstorms with a defined surface circulation and maximum sustained winds of 39-73 mph (34-63 kt)
Hurricane
An intense tropical weather system of strong thunderstorms with a well-defined surface circulation and maximum sustained winds of 74 mph (64 kt) or higher
Hurricanes are categorized according to the strength of their winds using the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale. A Category 1 storm has the lowest wind speeds, while a Category 5 hurricane has the strongest. These are relative terms, because lower category storms can sometimes inflict greater damage than higher category storms, depending on where they strike and the particular hazards they bring. In fact, tropical storms can also produce significant damage and loss of life, mainly due to flooding.

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  • A woman choked her dog to death because she was tired of the dog biting her.  A Monroe County Sheriff's statement says 61-year-old Alice Evans told deputies on Saturday that the dog named Big John had bitten her on the hand the previous night. She was arrested Tuesday on a felony charge of cruelty to animals.   The arrest report says Evans told investigators she choked the dog with his collar and buried him in the backyard. The report says the wound on Evans hand was 'no larger than a pencil eraser.'   The deputy dug up the dog's body and took it to a veterinarian for a necropsy, which confirmed the cause of death to be strangulation.   Jail records don't list an attorney for Evans.
  • A video stunt gone wrong leaves a woman charged in the fatal shooting of her boyfriend.   Monalisa Perez, of Halstad, was charged Wednesday with second-degree manslaughter in the death of Pedro Ruiz III.   A criminal complaint says the 19-year-old Perez told authorities Ruiz wanted to make a YouTube video of her shooting a bullet into a book he was holding against his chest. She says she fired from about a foot away.   Authorities say Ruiz died from a single gunshot wound to the chest.   The victim's aunt, Claudia Ruiz, tells WDAY-TV that the couple played pranks and put them on YouTube.   Perez was granted a public defender and released on $7,000 bail.   The charge carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.
  • A stolen car has four flat tires after a police chase.   The owner had chased after his car on foot after it was stolen near 800 South Quaker Avenue around 12:45 a.m. Thursday. Tulsa police arrived and took over. TPD Sergeant Joe Gimble tells KRMG that officers “pursued the vehicle until the vehicle crashed out over at First and Frankfort.” But the chase wasn't over. “Two occupants took off. One went east and the other one went west.” A police canine caught the driver, 32-year old Derek Jacobson, but his passenger is still at large.
  • In October of last year, TFD Chief Ray Driskell had a meeting with a captain who recorded the conversation. Capt. Nick Gillespie had been disciplined for an incident in which he was photographed sitting down in a ladder bucket during an incident. It was apparently not the first time Chief Driskell had to meet with Capt. Gillespie, and he clearly wasn’t happy about the circumstances. What followed can only be described as a no-holds barred, profanity-laced dressing down of an employee. It’s unclear whether Driskell knew he was being recorded, though he says early on that the discussion should remain inside that room. It didn’t, and after Gillespie was busted down from captain to firefighter, he went to arbitration and his attorney, Joel LaCourse, released the recording to the media. They also requested an investigation into Driskell’s treatment of Gillespie, and whether Driskell needed a CLEET certification in order to carry a firearm. Earlier this week, Mayor G. T. Bynum issued a statement in which he said the investigation by his office did not result in any disciplinary action against Driskell, and that the city attorney had previously issued an opinion that the chief didn’t need a CLEET certification. But the mayor’s statement did not directly address concerns over the language or tenor of the conversation between Driskell and Gillespie. Earlier this week, Fire Fighters Local 176 voted to hold a vote of no confidence concerning the chief. LaCourse tells KRMG that in the meantime, his client’s arbitration over his demotion will continue. They’re still considering whether any other legal action can or should be taken. He expressed his appreciation for the mayor’s willingness to investigate Driskell’s conduct, but admitted he was disappointed in the outcome. “Chief Driskell’s conduct towards Captain Gillespie was unequivocally inappropriate. He was berating him, he used substantial profanity and vulgarity that wouldn’t be tolerated within any other department within the city of Tulsa,” LaCourse said. KRMG has requested an interview with Chief Driskell, but so far he has declined.