Hurricane Dangers: Wind, Water & At-Risk Zones
When a Hurricane Threatens
The National Hurricane Center has devised a way to show the relative risk of hurricane conditions. Risk ranges from nearly none (yellow) to high (red). The size of the various risk areas depends on the certainty of the prediction and the strength of the hurricane.
The No. 1 killer in a hurricane, the surge is the rise of water level, starting gradually, then increasing rapidly as the eye approaches. The surge can range from a few feet to 20 feet, depending on the strength of the hurricane.
A major threat inland. A doubling of wind speed increases the destructive force four times. Shallow-rooted trees can be blown down more than 100 miles inland, as Fran did in the Triangle in 1996 and Hugo did in Charlotte in 1989.
Some hurricanes trigger tornadoes as they make landfall. Tornadoes are most common far to the right of the storm path on the outer edge of the high winds.