Here are the 3 main threats hurricanes pose to land

Weather Week

EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The 2020 Atlantic Hurricane Season is underway, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t still time to prepare.

In fact, hurricane season doesn’t peak in Southern New England until August and September.

Hurricanes are particularly dangerous for anyone out on the open water, but they can also be just as dangerous over land. There are three main threats hurricanes can bring to land: wind damage, rainfall and storm surge flooding.

Interactive Hurricane Tracker: Track current and past storms »

Winds can do catastrophic damage in stronger hurricanes. The National Hurricane Center uses the Saffir-Simpson hurricane wind scale to help classify hurricanes. Here’s a breakdown of the five categories:

In 2011, Tropical Storm Irene brought widespread wind damage to the area. Trees were flattened and power outages were widespread. It was one of the most recent tropical events of note.

Power Outage Database: Interactive Map and Safety Information »

Hurricane Irene, 2011, as the storm moves northwestward over the Caribbean

When a hurricane or tropical storm approaches the area, it pushes ocean and bay waters inland. This is known as storm surge flooding. The water simply has nowhere else to go but over land as the storm’s onshore winds push it northward.

Parts of Misquamicut State Beach in Westerly were completely destroyed by storm surge flooding from Superstorm Sandy in 2012.

pStorm Surge_1536624727406.png.jpg

The third threat from tropical systems is rainfall flooding. In 2014, Hurricane Arthur washed out the Fourth of July and caused widespread street flooding. Recorded rainfall from the storm was more than 6 inches.

Related: Even minor street flooding can cause trouble for your vehicle » | Storm Ready: Flooding and flash flood safety »

Street flooding on Benefit St in Pawtucket


Because hurricanes can hit us with a 1, 2, 3 punch, it’s important to stay prepared and be ready for when the next one strikes. It’s not a matter of if, but when.

Weather Week: Exploring Summer Threats » | More Storm Ready Resources »

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