Hurricanes are severe tropical storms that form in the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico and Eastern Pacific Ocean. They rotate counter-clockwise around an eye with winds of at least 74 miles per hour. The eye is generally 20-30 miles wide and the storm may spread outward 400 miles. The hurricane season lasts from June 1 through November 30 and peaks in August and September. Hurricanes can produce incredible waves, violent winds, torrential rains and floods.
Typhoons are mature tropical cyclones that develop in the western part of the North Pacific Ocean. Typhoons can happen throughout the year but the majority of storms form between June and November. Similar to a hurricane, a typhoon has sustained wind speeds of at least 74 mph.
To prepare for a hurricane or typhoon, stock up on emergency supplies. Learn about your local emergency plans, warning signals, and evacuation routes. Be prepared to drive 20-50 miles inland to reach safety. If there is standing water or downed power lines, turn off the electricity. If you evacuate, turn off the electricity, gas and water, and take important papers and prescription drugs with you. Continue to monitor storm advisories and tell someone outside of the storm area where you are going.
In a matter of hours on Friday, 8 November 2013, Typhoon Haiyan completely devastated parts of the central Philippines. It was one of the strongest storms ever recorded. The death toll is estimated up to 10,000 with hundreds of thousands more displaced. The country has declared a “state of calamity.”
For those in the Philippines, you can search for friends and family members at the Google person finder.
For those who want to help, here are some of the agencies you can donate to: