Hurricane Harvey touched down in Texas on August 25, 2017. What is a hurricane? Why is it called Harvey? How does it compare to other storms? And what can you do to help?
What is a hurricane?
A hurricane is a type of intense tropical storm that forms over water. To be a called a hurricane, storm winds must be stronger than 72 miles per hour. When wind is that strong, it can knock down houses and trees — causing major destruction.
A hurricane can be further defined by it’s “category.” A category 1 hurricane is the mildest, with winds between 74-95 miles per hour. A category 5 hurricane is the most severe, with winds upwards of 157 miles per hour.
Hurricanes can shift between categories as they shift in form. When Hurricane Harvey touched down, the winds were as strong as 130 miles per hour, making it a category 4 hurricane.
Why is it called Harvey?
The World Meteorological Organization is responsible for naming tropical storms. The practice has been in place since the 1950s when people realized that giving the storms easy-to-remember names helped in communication among emergency responders.
The names alternate between genders and some examples of previous hurricane names include Katrina, Sandy and Matthew. Tropical storm Harvey was named on August 17, 2017. It wasn’t considered a hurricane until August 24, one day before touching down.
How does Hurricane Harvey compare to other storms?
The strength and size of Hurricane Harvey is comparative to other tropical storms in our country’s history. However, what makes Hurricane Harvey different is the amount of rainfall that continued after it’s initial touchdown.
According the National Weather Service, Texas has received over 50 inches of rain — a record for any storm in the continental United States. (Hurricane Katrina, which happened in 2005, only had 17 inches of rainfall.) This equals to trillions of gallons of water in the city of Houston.
What happens now? And how can you help?
Areas in Texas affected most by Hurricane Harvey will have a long road of reconstruction ahead. Many, many people are displaced after leaving their homes and all their belongings to find safety from the flood waters.
Fortunately, at times like this, we find unity and humanity by helping one another. You can help too. Talk to a grown-up to see what you can do. Many charitable organizations (American Red Cross, Save the Children) are accepting Hurricane Harvey relief money. We can’t think of a better way to spend your allowance this month.