PDA

View Full Version : Hurricanes



Emermouse
11-14-2013, 06:55 AM
Okay, because I am a horrible sadist who likes to put my characters through hell, in my post-apocalyptic novel, I'm thinking of having a hurricane hit my characters' city. Trouble is, as an Okie, I know about twisters but not hurricanes. I tried browsing Wikipedia but my mind is overflowing with data and I'm confused as hell. What are the steps of a hurricane? Is it like with twisters where first you get a downpour then hail before the hurricane moves in? Are there any signs that would tip someone off that a hurricane's about to hit? What's it like to be in a hurricane?

Any help would be appreciated.

Siri Kirpal
11-14-2013, 07:20 AM
Sat Nam! (literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

We don't get many here in the Pacific Northwest, but we do get some. Rain, rain, rain with wind, wind, wind. Oh, and watch the little tree planted two years ago corkscrewing in the wind and watch it tumble. The ground water rises; there's water in the basement.

You probably won't have this in your novel, but all your out-of-state relatives call. :)

Basically, it's rain and high-velocity wind. No noticeable funnel. ETA: And much more widespread than any twister.

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal

cornflake
11-14-2013, 08:46 AM
Okay, because I am a horrible sadist who likes to put my characters through hell, in my post-apocalyptic novel, I'm thinking of having a hurricane hit my characters' city. Trouble is, as an Okie, I know about twisters but not hurricanes. I tried browsing Wikipedia but my mind is overflowing with data and I'm confused as hell. What are the steps of a hurricane? Is it like with twisters where first you get a downpour then hail before the hurricane moves in? Are there any signs that would tip someone off that a hurricane's about to hit? What's it like to be in a hurricane?

Any help would be appreciated.

The downpour kind of IS the hurricane. A hurricane is just a big, badass storm with amped up wind and rain. There's no 'it's about to hit!' aside from the eye, and that is very often gone by the time it's hitting land.

The closer to the center, generally the higher the winds and heavier the rain, but hurricanes are very large, so it can be raining for hours and hours, just starting less heavily, as the outer bands are what move toward land first and, if you look at a satellite view, those cloud bands move and have more or less rain in them so it's not a completely steady downpour whenever.

If you're very coastal there can be a storm surge, which is high tide and big waves along with the rain. That's about the size of it, really.

Also, they can move and weaken and drift or settle in, as they're just really large storms, so one can come in and then bump up the coast and be gone in a few hours, or one can drift onto the coast and then the jet streams don't move it and it just sits on you and rains and it's very windy for like 8 hours.

The storm dissipates as it moves on, like any storm.

As to what it's like to be in a hurricane - it's rainy and windy? It's really just a big windy rainstorm. If you look on youtube or some local news sites from New Orleans or Fla. or NY/NJ from Sandy (which was a combination of a hurricane with a Nor'easter), you can see reporters out in it, usually talking to people out in it. There are dangerous moments and they can do real damage, obviously - check the Philippines atm - but that's heavy wind (it usually takes a while to cause damage, it blows and blows and then trees in the rain-soaked ground start going over and etc.), and storm surge, which you can see in Sandy coverage in a city and basically in Katrina coverage, though that was actual levees being overtopped, not the case in NY/NJ. In general, especially in cities, people walk around in hurricanes, except if there's flooding there or there's stuff that can fly at you.

StormChord
11-14-2013, 09:00 AM
A hurricane is too big for the spin to be visible on a human scale, but it is there. Hurricanes are notorious for spawning off smaller, anticyclonic storms around the edges, vortices left by the spin of the storm. If you wanted, you could have your city be ravaged by tornadoes for several hours before the hurricane makes landfall.

A hurricane is an enormous and powerful thunderstorm, pure and simple. You'll get insanely high winds all blowing in the same direction - often not the one typical for wind direction in the location - and torrential rain, as the hurricane deposits all the humidity it picked up in its travels over the oceans. Before the hurricane strikes, the winds will most likely be moving unusually - following the spin of the storm, not the overall wind patterns. The sky will be varying shades of grayish-green to black as the storm moves in.

A hurricane loses energy as it travels over land. Coastal areas are always hit worst, while inland areas might be relatively undisturbed. But hurricanes are really stinkin' big. "Inland" can mean "two thousand miles away".

The eye of the hurricane is at the center of the vortex. It's surrounded by swirling winds and clouds several miles high, but it itself is calm. When the eye of the storm passes over, it usually marks the halfway point of the hurricane; however, some people in your story could interpret the calm as the storm breaking, and act accordingly - that is, leaving shelter, beginning cleanup, then getting swept away as soon as the intermission is over.

The aftermath will include flooding, toppled buildings, and the entire city basically looking like it got on the bad side of a thousand-mile-wide bulldozer.

Ciao!

debirlfan
11-14-2013, 10:18 AM
Speaking as a New Englander who's seen a few of these...

Location is a big thing. Are your victims right on the coast? If so, they may get flooding from ocean water that has nothing to do with the rainfall. Waves will be much bigger/rougher than usual, and will do significant damage to any buildings along the shore. A hurricane hitting at high tide will do more of this damage than one that arrives at low tide. The shoreline itself will also have an effect - damage from the recent hurricane Sandy was worse because the wind pushed the waves/water into Long Island sound like a giant funnel.

And - despite what others have said - you don't ALWAYS get a lot of rain with a hurricane. You usually do, and I would probably write a fictional hurricane that way, because that's what people expect - but during hurricane Bob, we actually got very little rain.

Assuming your people don't have radar or have radio contact with any ships out to sea/islands where the storm has passed first, they're not going to know that it's coming.

Bufty
11-14-2013, 02:52 PM
Depending upon where your city is, what you are describing as a hurricane may be known as a typhoon. Check the current news re the Phillipines to see the effect.

jclarkdawe
11-14-2013, 06:16 PM
A hurricane is caused by a low-pressure system setting up, caused by warm water. Hurricanes always originate over water that is more then 70 degrees. They may then drift north from the equator, which is how Japan, Korea, and the north-eastern United States get their hurricanes.

Classic way to tell that a hurricane was coming before the weather channel was a drop in pressure in barometers. The bigger the drop, the worst the situation. You can't tell the severity of a hurricane by visual observation, but it isn't a sudden storm, but one that shows a steady rise. You'd find it's opening stages more like a blizzard then a tornado, although a lot warmer. In New England, we'll often feel a warm, muggy feel in the air that's pushed in front of the hurricane.

Hurricanes are dangerous from storm surge and flooding, and wind-blown debris. Storm surge is a coastal issue, and refers to water being pushed by the wind. It can rise ten to twenty feet above normal water levels. It's combined with heavy rains, that can overwhelm streams and rivers.

One of the reasons the winds are so destructive in a hurricane is that the ground becomes saturated with water. I remember in one hurricane my wife and I watching a neighbor's tree as it rocked back and forth from the wind, pulling the roots out of the ground slowly as the ground turned to mud.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

Jersey Chick
11-14-2013, 07:07 PM
I can tell you what Sandy was like in NJ - for a few days before, the air got very heavy, the sky got very iron-gray, and it was very still. Then the day of the storm, we started out with rain. Not much (we didn't get hit with much at first, and all told, the rain was nothing compared to the wind.) And it really remained very much like a heavy rain storm, with sheets of water hitting the windows and overflowing the gutters. We had the news on all day - flipping between news and Weather Channel, watching and waiting for the storm to make landfall.

The worst part about Sandy was the wind. It howled. I watched trees bend and waited for them to break (they didn't, really. The ones we lost were actually uprooted, but they were skinny pine trees. Thankfully, the huge oaks and maples in my yard held.) Big tree branches snapped off and rolled across the back yard. My neighbor's fence just toppled over. You could hear the wind, and it sounded like it wanted to just rip the shingles off the roof. It was loud and menacing - enough that we wouldn't let the kids sleep in their rooms. I set them up in the family room on the lowest floor of our house because it was the safest place for them to be.

Our lights flickered and we could hear faint explosions. Looking out the windows, we could see blue flashes coming from this direction and that. Transformers were blowing up all around us at different intervals and then the lights went out.

We knew as soon as the storm made landfall, because it just intensified like *that* and at that time, we still had power, so we watched as it blasted through Seaside and Ortley - the wind was so strong, it just blew sea foam everywhere. Just take a look at the images that came out of Ortley and Mantoloking in the days that followed. That wind was a beast.

When Irene hit (although I think that was downgraded to a Tropical Storm) the big factor was rain. It wasn't anywhere near as frightening as Sandy was - I didn't think any trees were going to smash through my house. But we watched the water build up in our pool (inground, just a few feet from our house. My husband went out several times during the night to dump water from it into the creek behind our house), watched it pool up everywhere on the ground. The river crested a third of the way into my neighborhood (fortunately we are far enough back that we weren't affected, but houses just half a mile away had water up to their second floor.) The power went out the next day. It wasn't out as long as it was after Sandy, though.

We don't get hit by many hurricanes (they tend to peter out before they reach NJ - Sandy was different because it was actually several different storms that just happened to converge over us) and a lot are downgraded to Tropical Storms and our concern is always flooding, because NJ really is just one big swamp.

Tazlima
11-14-2013, 07:08 PM
The storm itself might not be the only problem. Hurricanes can bring out the best in some people and the worst in others.

At my old house, the neighbors had an outdoor dog, a big, goofy yellow lab who lived on a chain. They took decent care of him. Not great, but nothing bad enough to call animal control. The husband spent a lot of time in the yard and interacted with it a good bit, a lot more than most "yard dogs" get. Regular food and water, access to shade, all the basics were covered. I kept an eye on the situation and it wasn't great, but I've seen animals that had it a lot worse.

Then came a hurricane. When it started to flood around the house, my landlady (the house was a double and she lived in the other half) looked out the window and there was the poor dog, swimming in circles at the end of his chain. His owners hadn't bothered to bring him indoors. We got him free and brought him into our house. The owners tried to come get him after the storm, all huffy that we dared take their dog, but they backed down pretty quickly when we refused to return him.

The storm revealed their true colors.

ULTRAGOTHA
11-14-2013, 07:08 PM
Where your characters are is important, as stated. Coastal? Inland? Near rivers?

See what Irene did to Vermont for an example of horrible damage inland along rivers.

See what Katrina did to New Orleans for an example of horrible damage on low-lying land with a lake behind.

See what Sandy did to a huge swatch of the East Coast of the US for an example of just how widespread the damage can be.

See what Haiyan has just done to the Philippines for an example of what a 20 foot storm surge and hours and hours of 180+ mph winds and torrential rains can do.

Jersey Chick
11-14-2013, 07:26 PM
In the days after Sandy, almost nothing was open - a lot of stores lost power, gas stations lost power - and the ones that were open had a lot of empty shelves. Gas lines were literally a mile long, with hours-long waits (my brother waited in line for something like 3 hours at one point.) A lot of roads were closed because of downed power lines/uprooted trees, and there were HUGE traffic jams on major highways because signal lights were out.

But - it brought out a lot of good in people. As line crews arrived from out of state to help, they were treated like rock stars. People buying and bringing them coffee/food. And as Thanksgiving neared, a lot of people opened their homes to people who had nowhere to go for the holiday because of storm damage.

After all the flooding with Irene, my husband spent nearly a week at the other end of the neighborhood, helping the people whose houses were so badly flooded, dragging out furniture, etc.

We also had trouble with looters (some people really do just suck) so the police department barricaded two of three roads into my neighborhood and set up a checkpoint at the third. You had to have ID to get in or out, and they were there for a few weeks.

Beachgirl
11-15-2013, 07:17 AM
I was a few miles from the eye of Charley in 2004. When the first outer band hit, it sounded like a train had hit the side of our house. The whole house shook. Our doors and windows were boarded up, other than our sliding doors at the back of the house, so we were limited to the view across the lake behind our house. We watched the wind and rain for hours. Patio furniture, building materials (our neighborhood was still under construction) and all manner of things flew past our house.

Unlike a thunderstorm, hurricanes do not typically generate thunder and lightning. Only torrential rain and howling wind. After the eye passes, the wind comes from the opposite direction.

Charley was small, but incredibly powerful at a borderline Cat 5 at landfall. Entire pine flatwoods were decimated, with acres of trees snapped in half like toothpicks. The aftermath can still be seen in some areas, even though 9 years have passed.

The summer of 2004 was a difficult time in Florida and many of us suffered from what was termed "hurricane fatigue." We had four storms that summer and lived with our homes boarded up for two months. We drove an hour north just to find gasoline. People slept in tents in their yards for months, because their homes were uninhabitable. The aftermath makes people numb. By the time the fourth storm came through that year, we didn't even listen to the weather. We just stayed hunkered down and prayed for it to go away.

Russell Secord
11-16-2013, 02:03 AM
What are the steps of a hurricane?

It depends on where you are in relation to the eye. If you're far enough away, it's no worse than a bad thunderstorm. If you're on the trailing edge, i.e. the winds come at you over land, you'll probably escape the worst of it. If you're on the leading edge, it doesn't get any worse.

The storm surge doesn't just raise the water levels--it's a wall of water pushed onto shore by the relentless wind. If you can't get out of its way, and it's taller than you, you're dead. Imagine being one of the Egyptians following Moses across the Red Sea.

The wind by itself probably won't kill you. It's what it picks up and throws at you. It's the way it pushes and pulls and twists at everything, and once it gets a grip, it rips away roofs, walls, shingles, wood, glass, bricks, and whatever else it can carry. If you have to go somewhere, you'll fight the wind for every inch of progress, and if you fall, you may get swept into the next hard object in its path.

A relative had a house on the shore made of concrete. A hurricane came through. Everything but the concrete frame disappeared. The wooden house next door disappeared. Only a tile patio remained.


What's it like to be in a hurricane?

The people in New Orleans make a drink they call a Hurricane. It's big and it's strong. Imagine spending hours or days in the strongest place you can find. Thousands of demons are howling outside. There's no electricity, no contact with the outside world, no hope of rescue. At any moment the walls could collapse, and you'd be blown into the outer darkness at a hundred miles an hour, or crushed by a flying tree limb, or flattened by the wall. You'd drink too.

Emermouse
11-16-2013, 05:05 AM
I'm assuming that the winds and rain can make short work of glass windows. They don't nail all those sheets of plywood on windows for nothing, right?

If you're wondering, my story takes place in a coastal city. Does that mean the storm's going to be superbad?

Is there a safe room in a hurricane? With twisters we're told to go to an interior room with no windows or a cellar if we have one.

King Neptune
11-16-2013, 05:14 AM
I'm assuming that the winds and rain can make short work of glass windows. They don't nail all those sheets of plywood on windows for nothing, right?

If you're wondering, my story takes place in a coastal city. Does that mean the storm's going to be superbad?

Is there a safe room in a hurricane? With twisters we're told to go to an interior room with no windows or a cellar if we have one.

The windows break from debris blown along by the hurricane. The wind sometimes can do that, just popping the window out, but the rain doesn't break windows.

Safe rooms are not generally suggested for hurricanes, because it is unlikely that the hurricane will knock a house down; although that sometimes happens. Hurricane winds are usually in the 75 to 125 mph range, not the 200 mph range of tornados. Using basements during hurricanes is not a good idea, because the water may pour in very quickly.

cornflake
11-16-2013, 05:26 AM
I'm assuming that the winds and rain can make short work of glass windows. They don't nail all those sheets of plywood on windows for nothing, right?

If you're wondering, my story takes place in a coastal city. Does that mean the storm's going to be superbad?

Is there a safe room in a hurricane? With twisters we're told to go to an interior room with no windows or a cellar if we have one.

Rain doesn't, or shouldn't, do anything to windows (I mean old ones may have leaks if the sealant is really old but you know what I mean), nor does most wind. People tape and put plywood up to prevent stuff from crashing into the windows or from the window glass getting everyplace if something hits a window.

It depends. New York got nothing but some moderate rain in Irene while inland Vermont got nailed from flooding. Parts of NY and NJ however, were trashed by Sandy - mostly from storm surge flooding. Some places, like Florida, that experience more storms of greater variety, can have ones that bring heavy wind damage as well as flooding.

No, safe rooms would be a bad idea - first, you'd be sat in there forever and a day. Second, if a hurricane is going to get you, it'll be because of flooding from either a lot of rain or storm surge, flying or crashing debris, or sustained, high winds. In none of those cases do you want to be in some interior room where you dunno what's going on at all. You don't want to be standing and staring at a window that could have stuff flying into it, or near the big tree in the yard but I've been in several hurricanes. Gone out in every single one. Often just wandering about, sometimes stopping to shop and stuff. It's not, in general, save specific moments 'uh oh, that crane looks tippy!' 'uhm, why's that car floating by?' anything like a tornado in terms of 'danger!! danger!!' it's a big, bad storm. Though this depends in very specific on where you live - if you're on the beach, surge and high tide can be really dangerous. If you live in a heavily-treed area, saturated ground can make it really dangerous.

Jersey Chick
11-16-2013, 05:56 AM
I remember when we were preparing for Hurricane Gloria back in 1985, we taped giant Xs across the windows with masking tape. Fortunately, Gloria really didn't do much damage to my part of the state (at least, I don't remember there being much of anything.) And to be honest, I don't know how a masking tape X is going to help if a tree branch comes flying at the window, but that's what we did.

I'm pretty sure people down along the shore use plywood to protect big windows - like bay or picture windows.

My inlaws have a house in Lavallette and I don't think they did anything to protect the windows (the entire back of their house is pretty much glass and the house is on the bay), but their damage didn't come from wind, it came from flooding. Five feet of water washed over the island where their house is. Fortunately, their house is elevated by about that same amount, so the house was okay. The garage, however, was land-level and the floodwaters were strong enough to knock over the refrigerator in the garage and set it afloat on its back.

Also, a big hazard with flooding is mold. My inlaws had to rip out and re-sheetrock the first five or so feet of their garage and everything that wasn't up high enough had to be thrown out because it was all ruined. My MIL said the worst part was that when the electricity went out, the refrigerators obviously went out and since they were in FL when it happened, and it was days before anyone was allowed in, all the food went rotten. It took days for her to get the stink out of the house.

Not to mention, the gas mains ruptured and fires broke out, and parts of the road were washed out while other parts were several feet underwater. So the dangers aren't necessarily in the storm itself, but in the aftermath.

Beachgirl
11-16-2013, 06:13 AM
If you're wondering, my story takes place in a coastal city. Does that mean the storm's going to be superbad?

Is there a safe room in a hurricane? With twisters we're told to go to an interior room with no windows or a cellar if we have one.

It depends on the coastal city and how close you are to the beach. I work on a barrier island. If a hurricane is approaching, even a Cat 1, the entire island is under a mandatory evacuation. A small 3-foot storm surge could inundate the entire island. I would call that "superbad." My house is on the mainland, but is less than a mile from the beach. We have to evacuate in a Cat 2 due to storm surge.

Hurricanes begin to lose strength as soon as they make landfall, so the closer you are to the coast, the stronger the winds are likely to be. As they move inland, they tend to throw off numerous small tornadoes - not the monster kind that occur in "tornado alley," but strong enough to do damage. Florida is home to countless mobile home communities, usually populated by retirees, and these communities are very susceptible to damage.

Most of coastal Florida is only a few feet above sea level, so basements are not an option, unless you're looking to build a spring-fed, indoor swimming pool. Newer homes are built to modern hurricane codes (post-Hurricane Andrew) and are specifically designed to withstand at least a Cat 3 storm, so safe-rooms are not typically built. Besides, hurricanes can last hours and hours - I think the longest one I ever went through was a crawler at 18 hours - and I can't imagine being locked inside a tiny room for that long.

Emermouse
11-16-2013, 06:23 AM
Okay so just what do you do in when a hurricane hits besides say,"Oh shit" and pray? Right now, I'm leaning towards having the characters freak out and immediately move away from windows, but I don't really know what else to have them do.

Beachgirl
11-16-2013, 06:34 AM
Okay so just what do you do in when a hurricane hits besides say,"Oh shit" and pray? Right now, I'm leaning towards having the characters freak out and immediately move away from windows, but I don't really know what else to have them do.

There's typically no reason to freak out. We have lots of warning before a hurricane hits. We track them for days, watching every little wobble and turn. We watch the weather channel as the storm approaches and peek out any uncovered windows. I've never said "oh, shit" when the first bands came ashore, because I knew they were coming. About the only thing we ever do when the winds hit are pause our card game, look outside for a few minutes and then make another cocktail. There's a reason they call them "hurricane parties." :D

Jersey Chick
11-16-2013, 06:48 AM
We were all relieved when Sandy finally did hit, because the waiting is the worst part. My husband and I drank Dark n' Stormies (ginger beer and Gosling's black rum) and although I will admit that the sound of the wind freaked me out more than anything, I couldn't let the kids know it freaked me out. When the power went out (my son is terrified of the dark, thanks to 4 days of blackout after Irene hit in 2011) I had candles ready, since we were fully expecting to be in the dark, and we tucked them on the sofas (the kids, not the candles) and I read to them by candlelight. We had plenty of batteries (for the flashlights and radio,) car chargers for the cell phones, a stockpile of bottled water (although we were lucky, power outage =/=no running water or no hot water in my house,) and plenty of canned soup and the like. And plenty of alcohol. ;) Preparation is key when it comes to getting through a hurricane. :)

Beachgirl
11-16-2013, 06:52 AM
And plenty of alcohol. ;) Preparation is key when it comes to getting through a hurricane. :)

QFT ;)

King Neptune
11-16-2013, 06:25 PM
Okay so just what do you do in when a hurricane hits besides say,"Oh shit" and pray? Right now, I'm leaning towards having the characters freak out and immediately move away from windows, but I don't really know what else to have them do.

Well, having a large bowl of popcorn and some appropriate beverages is much better than simplty saying, "Oh shit." There isn't anything that one can do after having secured anything outside and made sure there was enough food for a few days without stores. Sit back and enjoy. After experiencing a few dozen hurricanes one becomes accustomed to them, unless a big one comes along.

Emermouse
11-18-2013, 05:03 AM
Okay I'm hacking my way through the scene. It's coming along slowly and it still doesn't feel natural to me, even after all the digging around for info on the internet. I'm wondering if I should give up and make it a twister because I know twisters better than hurricanes. Not that I know all the inner workings of a twister, but I've come closer to experiencing them than I would have liked. Heck, I lived in Oklahoma City during the May 3, 1999 twister outbreak. You don't live in Oklahoma without learning a few things about twisters. So what do you think? Should I just go with a twister or should I keep trying with the hurricane?

jaksen
11-18-2013, 05:13 AM
It is a huge rainy, windy storms. Stuff flies around. Trees topple over. Power lines come down. If you're near the coast, the ocean creeps up and up and up and finally comes in - and if the tide is also coming in, it just amps up everything that much more.

I've been in many hurricanes and the scariest was the one in which the water came up over the seawall and started filling up the yard of my grandparent's house on Cape Cod. I was only five and my mother was alone with me and my sister. She had no car. (Back in the 1950's many families only had one car.) The phone lines went down and my grandfather's friend got in his jeep and came to get us. He took us home, over the Bourne Bridge and went through a blockade to do so. (The police had closed the bridge for safety reasons.) Well, he went through the blockade and took us inland to home and safety.

There have been others, but mostly it's wind and rain and then more wind and more rain. Downed power lines and trees. I heard that the Hurricane of 1938 (they didn't name them then) took down a billion trees along the east coast.

In 1961 my grandfather raised his Cape Cod house a few feet. In the hurricanes since, we've had a few storm surges and our yard has been flooded, by the water has never gotten high enough (yet) to get into the house.

As for the eye of the hurricane, I've been in a few. Stood outside and turned around in a complete circle to see the clouds all around me. That is a surreal experience.

Fruitbat
11-18-2013, 05:17 AM
Okay I'm hacking my way through the scene. It's coming along slowly and it still doesn't feel natural to me, even after all the digging around for info on the internet. I'm wondering if I should give up and make it a twister because I know twisters better than hurricanes. Not that I know all the inner workings of a twister, but I've come closer to experiencing them than I would have liked. Heck, I lived in Oklahoma City during the May 3, 1999 twister outbreak. You don't live in Oklahoma without learning a few things about twisters. So what do you think? Should I just go with a twister or should I keep trying with the hurricane?

If a hurricane fits your story better than a twister, you could always write it the best you can. Then ask people who know about hurricanes to check it for accuracy, and maybe make suggestions for additional details.

kaitie
11-18-2013, 05:52 AM
How big of a hurricane are you looking for? The most recent I was in was a category one. The eye passed right over where I was living. If your people have decent shelter, then they've basically barricaded themselves in and aren't able to see what's going on. Windows will be boarded shut. Things will be flying everywhere, and the sounds are pretty terrifying. Things banging up against the shutters, around the streets, branches falling. The wind howls, and that's spooky, but for me it was things flying around and banging that were the scariest parts. I couldn't see what was going on, so I had no idea how bad it was (it wasn't, really). I didn't know what was blowing around. Was it a garbage can, a flower pot, or my neighbor's roof? The house shakes with the wind. The rain is a sound, but is so constant that you get used to it after a bit.

I didn't have to worry about flooding, so that wasn't an issue for me, but I was worried about damage to the building or those around me.

The eye passed over at 2 in the morning. One of the scariest things about the storm was how incredibly silent it got when the eye passed over. I had actually managed to fall asleep with the banging. After awhile I grew accustomed to it, and it was spooky but not as alarming. I woke up when it suddenly stopped. The rain, wind, the banging noises. Just complete and utter silence. I wanted to open the shutters and see how bad it was, but it was dark and I knew it was going to start up again, so I left them. The eye, though, it's scary. I don't know why, but it's just such an unnatural silence. It's hard to describe. I wasn't able to fall back to sleep until the winds started picking up again.

I had a friend tell me once that hurricanes were scarier than earthquakes because at least earthquakes were over quickly. I didn't really believe him until I was in that. It lasts for hours, and the scariest part if you're barricaded in well is the not knowing what's going on.

If you want to have a really terrible storm, or if they're not able to find adequate shelter, then it's going to be much more horrifying. The storm that hit the Philippines (granted, that's the worst ever) killed a lot of people because of objects flying around, not just the flooding. People were hit by flying debris as they tried to make it to higher ground.

Honestly, though, even a small hurricane can be a scary experience, and I imagine in a post-apocalyptic setting where you have no information it would be pretty awful. You wouldn't know how bad it was going to be, how much worse it would get, etc.

Not sure if any of this helps, but hopefully it gives you a bit of an idea what it's like to be in one.

King Neptune
11-18-2013, 06:19 AM
What is the setting?

If you have a twister hit the North Carolina coast or in New England, then it will seem rather peculiar. There are hurricanes along the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts, but there are very few tornados in those areas.

Imagine a fierce rain storm with seventy MPH winds that lasts for hours. Then it clears for a while. You go outside and survey the damage. Thereare broken branches, leaves, and whatever all over the place, but yo7u are a hundred miles inland, so the full fury was lost. You walk down to the corner store to get a paper and a six pack; you can't drive, because some trees fell in the road. Walking along you notice that there aren't any lights on, even though it's near sunset. At the store you find that open, but they are using a hand-crank cash register, because the power is out. You just get there, and someone says, "The eyewall is just a mile away. It's gonna be pouring again in a few minutes." He points out at the thick, gray wall of clouds that you can even see getting closer. You realize you have to either run home or hunker down until the hurricane passes, so you go out and run.

Hurricanes are interesting, and they are not unpleasant, unless you arre in the wrong place. If you are on a hill side not subject to flooding and not at the top where the winds would be furious, then you can watch a heavy rain, and hope that no trees fall on you. The eye is pleasant; the weather is beautiful for a little while. I once walked a mile to work in the eye and stayed inside away from windows for several hours, and I didn't realize that there really was a hurricane.

blacbird
11-18-2013, 06:34 AM
If you have a twister hit the North Carolina coast or in New England, then it will seem rather peculiar. There are hurricanes along the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts, but there are very few tornados in those areas.

Not really. One of the most famous tornadoes in U.S. history, with major loss of life, struck Worcester MA in 1953. Serious tornado strikes in New England occurred both in 2011 and earlier this year. And the Gulf Coast from Texas to Florida has been the scene of really deadly tornadoes with great frequency. In 2011, the year of the Joplin, Missouri tornado disaster, a tornado outbreak centered across Mississippi and Alabama killed more than 300 people. Famously, one of those hit Tuscaloosa, AL, and narrowly missed the University of Alabama football stadium.

caw

Debbie V
11-19-2013, 06:40 AM
We've had tornadoes on Long Island. They can be spawned by strong thunderstorms, but they don't cover the swath of territory they do in the more prone areas. Long Island isn't flat enough.

I remember Gloria. The wind was blowing up the night before. I helped my mom carry the table from the backyard inside (unless I dreamed that) and then went back to sleep since school was closed. The storm hit on a Friday morning. I delivered newspapers during the eye. We had to walk down the middle of the street because of the downed trees. The second half of the storm, the back half is often different in intensity than the first half. With Gloria it was nothing but a thunderstorm. We left for a Chicago wedding the next day. Our power was back on when we came home.

With Sandy, I recall the winds in part two being stronger. All of the trees that fell tipped west because of the wind direction. I am not coastal enough to flood, but my neighbors were trapped in their house by a fallen oak. They slept in their den because they could see the tree swaying before they went to bed. People die from trees hitting their homes or cars. It is not smart to be out in anything cat 2 or stronger because of this, flooding and falling power lines. Our power was out for one week. I have a copper phone line. Very few people still do. Cell towers were damaged or overloaded depending on the network. The copper line was the only way to reach anyone.

Pressure changes can also blow out windows. This is the reason for tape and boards. During Gloria we opened the windows a touch and lay towels down. That equalized the pressure. It is no longer recommended because it could start things blowing in the home or some such. The tape doesn't prevent the window from blowing in, it keeps the glass together. Better one large pane, than small shards flying through your home at 120 mph.

During Sandy, we listened to the portable radio (and the wind) and played Uno with the kids. We had tuna for dinner. I love hurricanes - Gloria and Bob were kind of fun. (Bob was nothing. I was working in a camp. The worst was figuring out what to do with the kids so they wouldn't be scared. Thankfully the sky didn't go to full black and we could see without flashlights.) In the morning, we helped the neighbors cut their tree so the one who works in insurance could get to work.

Of course, my coastal friends lost their homes. Even those in apartments weren't allowed back in their buildings for a month or more until the flood damage could be assessed and repaired.

As with Tornadoes, sometimes the aftermath is a bigger deal than the actual storm. The very worst part is the worrying about the people you can't get in touch with.

debirlfan
11-21-2013, 10:49 AM
I misspoke earlier. Mixed up my hurricanes. Actually, it was Gloria where we got very little rain (at least here in the Southeastern CT area) - with Bob it rained for a week afterwards, or at least it sure seemed that way. With each, the power was out for about a week. Same thing with Irene - and Sandy. After a couple days, it gets really boring.

WeaselFire
11-21-2013, 06:02 PM
Is there a safe room in a hurricane?
Run from the water, hide from the wind.

In all current US hurricane zones, building codes are such that most buildings are safe from hurricane winds. To avoid the tidal surge, you get out of Dodge. Hurricanes are straight-line winds with no pressure drops that blow houses apart from inside. Buildings simply come apart or blow over. Keeping the building envelope intact generally means little or no structural damage.

Water power is a different matter. And depends greatly on geography. A surge will move anything, cars, boats, buses buildings and roads. Even coastlines.

Keep in mind, I'm from Florida. Here, hurricanes are just a reason to take the day off and have a party. My house is at 7'5" and I'm a mile from the Gulf of Mexico. I've been through several dozen named storms, including Wilma, Katrina, Charlie, Andrew, Francis, Jean and many more. I lost a lemon tree and shingles on a shed.

Jeff

cornflake
11-21-2013, 08:55 PM
Not for nothing, but that pressure thing is a myth.

I remember when I was a kid, having heard that and my dad explaining why it didn't actually make sense. As does NOAA (http://www.aoml.noaa.gov/hrd/tcfaq/C6.html), here -


All of the doors and windows should be closed (and shuttered) throughout the duration of the hurricane. The pressure differences between inside your house and outside in the storm do not build up enough to cause any damaging explosions. (No house is built airtight.)

and Snopes (http://www.snopes.com/science/hurricane.asp), in more depth -


Is it true or false that one should open a window slightly during a hurricane to equalize the inner pressure of a house and the outside lower pressure of the hurricane?

Homeowners in hurricane areas do try to shield their property from weather-caused damage, but many of the popularly-believed defenses they resort to are ineffective, and one can contribute to far greater degrees of wreckage being visited upon their domiciles.

That latter tidbit of misinformation asserts that to relieve pressure from building up within the house during a hurricane and causing the building's roof to blow off, one should leave a few windows either fully open or slightly cracked. But the opposite is true: windows should be tightly shut to prevent any of the wind from entering the home. What does enter will seek to exit, in the process blowing out a roof or ceiling, collapsing a gable end or a garage door. Wherever the home's weak point is, such rogue winds will find it and assault it.

The notion of keeping some windows slightly cracked open during hurricanes crossed over from what was at one time touted as an effective defense against tornadoes but which has since been discredited. In the wake of devastating twisters, it would sometimes appear that a few houses had exploded; from this evidence, scientists theorized air pressure outside had to have been far lower than it was inside, with this disparity causing the blowout. It was therefore suggested people leave their windows open just a bit to equalize pressure.

However, further research showed those blasted apart houses were the result of wind blowing into open or broken windows, so the advice, rather than preventing this particular form of destruction, would actually work to cause it.

Also, Gizmodo (http://gizmodo.com/5955606/5-common-myths-about-hurricane-preparedness-and-why-theyre-bogus)says not to tape the windows -


it can make matters worse. When untaped windows get hit with flying debris, they're liable to shatter into a million tiny pieces. Sure, that sounds bad, but consider the alternative. When taped windows are hit with debris, they still break, but into larger, more menacing, dangerous pieces. These are the shards that could cause really damage to you.

debirlfan
11-23-2013, 07:37 AM
Speaking from experience - if you do tape your windows and don't remove it promptly post-hurricane, after the sun bakes it for a few days it's almost impossible to get off.

Never did THAT again after the first time. :)

Debbie V
11-26-2013, 08:36 PM
Not for nothing, but that pressure thing is a myth.

I remember when I was a kid, having heard that and my dad explaining why it didn't actually make sense. As does NOAA (http://www.aoml.noaa.gov/hrd/tcfaq/C6.html), here -

and Snopes (http://www.snopes.com/science/hurricane.asp), in more depth -

Also, Gizmodo (http://gizmodo.com/5955606/5-common-myths-about-hurricane-preparedness-and-why-theyre-bogus)says not to tape the windows -

Thanks for clearing up the myths. We never taped or boarded and the open windows were a one time thing. Now I know why. I'll have to thank my high school chem teacher for the misinformation on air pressure.