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In South Louisiana we have to deal with another of nature's patterns, and that is hurricanes. One need only look through back issues of newspapers or talk to life long residents to know the fear that a major hurricane can bring. Some of the more deadly in the past were Hurricane Camille, Hurricane Betsy, Hurricane Andrew, the Cheniere Caminanda Hurricane, the Isle Dernieres Hurricane, and the Racer's Storm. In all, Louisiana has been hit directly by more than 25 hurricanes.

Origin of Word Hurricane

September 1965 saw Hurricane Betsy coming across the Gulf Coast. She was a Category 2 hurricane bringing with her came 10-foot storm surges, 105 mile per hour (mph) winds, and was the first storm in United States history to cause more than $1 billion in damages. Hurricane Camille came a shore in 1969 with winds in excess of 200 mph, 20-foot tidal surges, and was a Category 5 storm. Hurricane Andrew rocked Florida in 1992 had winds clocked at over 160 miles per hour. The $20 - $30 billion dollars in damages made it the most costly disaster in the history of the nation at that time. The Cheniere Caminanda Hurricane of 1893 and the Isle Dernieres Hurricane of 1915 devastated the Louisiana coastline and permanently changed small barrier islands like Grand Isle.

The word hurricane comes from the derivative of an Indian word that was adopted by both the Spanish and the French during their colonization of Louisiana and its surrounding area. Only in North and Central America are they called hurricanes. Technically, they are known as tropical cyclones, and in other parts of the world, they are known by different names. In the Philippines they are known as baguios, cyclones in the Indian Ocean and Australia, and typhoons in the western North Pacific. With the exception of the word cyclone, these innocuous sounding names should never fool the listener; these storms are made of a revolving band of rain drenching, high wind storms that bring with them above average tidal surges and massive destruction.

How Do Hurricanes Form?

Hurricanes typically begin life as a preexisting weather pattern. These storms are brought to the hurricane stage by a combination of two things, the ocean and the atmosphere. In order for them to grow into a hurricane, the primary influence from the ocean is the temperature. If the water temperature is less than 79 degrees Fahrenheit a hurricane will not materialize. The troposphere must be continually supplying high relative humidity winds in the lower and middle troposphere, thereby helping to reduce the amount of evaporation in the clouds and maximizing the latent heat released because there is more precipitation. These thunderstorms begin making a circular pattern in a counter-clockwise motion, leaving a calm center between them known as the eye. The heaviest winds and rain normally occur when entering and leaving this area. These eyes can be greater than 20 miles depending on the size of the storm. To be classified as a hurricane, the storm must generate winds greater than 74 ...
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