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Hurricanes: A guide to the world's deadliest storms

As Hurricane Florence approaches the east coast of the United States, use our guide to see how these deadly storms form, their devastating effects and how they are measured.

Hurricanes


Hurricanes: A guide to the world's deadliest storms

A guide to the world's deadliest storms
Hurricanes: A guide to the world's deadliest storms

Hurricanes: A guide to the world's deadliest storms

Hurricanes are violent storms that can bring devastation to coastal areas, threatening lives, homes and businesses.
Hurricanes: A guide to the world's deadliest storms

Hurricanes develop from thunderstorms, fuelled by warm, moist air as they cross sub-tropical waters.
Warm air rises into the storm.
Hurricanes: A guide to the world's deadliest storms

Air swirls in to fill the low pressure in the storm, sucking air in and upwards, reinforcing the low pressure.
Hurricanes: A guide to the world's deadliest storms

The storm rotates due to the spin of the earth and energy from the warm ocean increases wind speeds as it builds.
Hurricanes: A guide to the world's deadliest storms

When winds reach 119km/h (74mph), it is known as a hurricane - in the Atlantic and Eastern Pacific - or a typhoon in the Western Pacific.
Hurricanes: A guide to the world's deadliest storms

"Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face. Well, we're about to get punched in the face."
Florida Mayor Bob Buckhorn, ahead of Hurricane Irma (2017)
Hurricanes: A guide to the world's deadliest storms

Hurricanes: A guide to the world's deadliest storms

The central eye of calmer weather is surrounded by a wall of rainstorms.
This eyewall has the fastest winds below it and violent currents of air rising through it.
Hurricanes: A guide to the world's deadliest storms

A mound of water piles up below the eye which is unleashed as the storm reaches land.
These storm surges can cause more damage from flooding than the winds.
Hurricanes: A guide to the world's deadliest storms

"Urgent warning about the rapid rise of water on the SW FL coast with the passage of #Irma's eye. MOVE AWAY FROM THE WATER!"
Tweet from the National Hurricane Center
Hurricanes: A guide to the world's deadliest storms

The size of hurricanes is mainly measured by the Saffir-Simpson scale - other scales are used in Asia Pacific and Australia.
Hurricanes: A guide to the world's deadliest storms

Winds 119-153km/h
Some minor flooding, little structural damage.
Storm surge +1.2m-1.5m
Hurricanes: A guide to the world's deadliest storms

Winds 154-177km/h
Roofs and trees could be damaged.
Storm surge +1.8m-2.4m
Hurricanes: A guide to the world's deadliest storms

Winds 178-208km/h
Houses suffer damage, severe flooding
Storm surge +2.7m-3.7m
Hurricanes: A guide to the world's deadliest storms

Hurricane Sandy (2012) caused $71bn damage in the Caribbean and New York
Hurricanes: A guide to the world's deadliest storms

Winds 209-251km/h
Some roofs destroyed and major structural damage to houses.
Storm surge +4m-5.5m
Hurricanes: A guide to the world's deadliest storms

Hurricane Ike (2008) hit Caribbean islands and Louisiana and was blamed for at least 195 deaths
Hurricanes: A guide to the world's deadliest storms

Winds 252km/h+
Serious damage to buildings, severe flooding further inland.
Storm surge +5.5m
Hurricanes: A guide to the world's deadliest storms

Hurricane Irma (2017) caused devastation in Caribbean islands, leaving thousands homeless
Hurricanes: A guide to the world's deadliest storms

"For everyone thinking they can ride this storm out, I have news for you: that will be one of the biggest mistakes you can make in your life."
Mayor of New Orleans Ray Nagin ahead of Hurricane Gustav, 2008
Hurricanes: A guide to the world's deadliest storms

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If you can't see the explainer above, follow this linkLooming hurricane sparks Trump warningHurricane Irma: Visual guideSix graphics that sum up Puerto Rico disaster
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