Saturday, August 22, 2009
The Fury of Hurricanes
When Hurricane Andrew of 1992 came booming ashore in South Florida, it caused the United States' most expensive natural disaster $27 billion worth of property destroyed. Loss of life was another matter. In Miami-Dade County, Andrew killed only 15 people by direct force of wind and water. Human casualties were so light because the storm caused little flooding in populated areas and the National Hurricane Center forecast the storm track accurately. Although hurricanes are inevitable on the East Coast of North America, correct characterization of the phenomenon on all scales enables men and women to prepare effectively. Accurate forecasts of individual events give people time and motivate them to act. The climatology of the threat's occurrence and severity is the key to wise policies implemented long before the event. Intelligent responses in the years, months, days, hours and even minutes before hurricane landfall can limit human and material losses.