Dangers and Destructions of Floods and Hurricanes
Floods and hurricanes have been effecting the lives of people around the world
for years. This research paper is going to state some of the worst floods and hurricanes,
and how future ones can be controlled.
A flood is an overflow of water on dry land. The two types of floods are coastal
and river floods. Coastal floods are the first topic in this research paper.
A coastal flood is the flooding of beaches and surrounding areas; including bar
spits and deltas. They can be effected by tidal waves and coastal currents. Coastal floods
can cover a large amount of distance along a shore. The length of time a coastal flood is
dangerous is usually very short. It depends on how high the tide is which goes up and
down twice a day. When the velocities of hurricane winds become severe the height of
the waves become three or more feet higher than the previous high tide. Coastal floods
can be caused by a number of things. Coastal floods can be caused by runoff, hurricane
waves, tsunami (seismic sea waves), and hurricane rains. Coastal flooding can not only
take part on oceans but it can also take part on lakes. Coastal flooding can be a great
danger because coast lines are very densely populated areas. In the United States in the
early 1990's 50% of the population was on a coastal county.1 Although they shrink before
reaching shore, wind generated waves have been spotted to be as high as 30 m (100 ft) in
the middle of the ocean.2 In 1970 a major storm in the Bay of Bengal produced heavy
seas that flooded regions of East Pakistan, killing about 200,000 people.3
River flooding can happen a number of ways. The causes are rain, snowmelt, and
ice jams. Soil can not absorb as much water with continuos moistening. The longer that
precipitation lasts the more water flows into streams as runoff. Cloudburst floods only
last for a couple hours, but they need a large amount of rainfall. This usually only
happens in mountainous areas. They are called flash floods. Floods occurring from
snowmelt and ice jams do not have to be preceded by heavy rains. Moderate amounts of
rain can make things even worse because the ground does not absorb it. Floods can result
in the failure dams, aqueducts, weirs, landfills, paving, construction, and storm sewers.
They are artificial causes.
In 1993 when rainfall lasted from April until July in Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota,
Missouri, Wisconsin, South Dakota, Nebraska, and Kansas, it covered about 16 billion
acres.4 Many deaths and $10 billion in damage was the result flood level records.5 In
March of 1936 snowmelt equaling 10-30 in. of rain occurred in New England.6107
people died and $270 million in damage was done.7 In 1972 at Logan County, West Va. a
dam collapsed following three days of rain. In less than four hours 118 lives had been
taken and $65 million in damages was done.8 In January of 1995 18 counties and several
parts of Calif. were declared disaster areas by President Clinton and 1,000 shelters were
opened.9 A 21 year old Californian surfer watched his house be flooded, but on the bright
side the waves should be good tomorrow. People have paddled past gas stations and are
eating hot dogs and marshmallows for supper. Here is a table concerning the rainfall of
California in January of 1994.
L.A. 7.36 in. .67 in. (average)
San Francisco 5,28 in. 1.40 in. "
Sacramento 6.60 in. 1.10 in. "
Redding 9.39 in. 1.50 in. "
National Weather Service Com. California Department of Water Resources.10
The averages for deaths and damages since 1970 from floods is 200 deaths and $4
billion in damage.11 It would be much higher if it wasn't for the National Weather
Service River and Flooding Forecasting Service. The National Weather Service River and
Flooding Forecasting Service gives flood watches and flood warnings to the civilians.
The forecasting of floods are based on Meteorologists, upstream information, and how
different places respond to precipitation. The United States Coast and Geologic Survey
monitors seismic waves and tides in the Pacific Ocean. It is said to have saved many
lives. Flood analysts can measure the probability of floods of various sizes. If a flood has
a 1 in 100 chance of being equaled it is called a 100 - year flood.12
Where major flooding happens once a year, the need for land is larger than the
dangers of flooding. In 1985 the Delta Plan was completed. It is 9 km. of steel gates
suspended between 66concrete pillars on the Delta River.13 The Thames River has a
similar construction. It was completed in 1982. Examples of structural flood control are
dams, reservoirs, levees, dikes, stream channels, flood-diversion systems, and
watershields. Dams control and impound water at times of flood and release when the
flood is over. Artificial levees raise the heights of stream banks. This can often fail.
Straightening flood channels allows water to flow faster and shallower. It is often
temporary. The nonstructural approach is simply preventing building in a floodplain. The
National Flood Insurance Act provides insurance for communities in flood prone areas.
By definition a hurricane is a violent storm with winds over 75 miles per hour. A
hurricane is much more than that. A hurricane is a storm and also a disaster that includes
many deaths and expensive damages. A hurricane is something that can not be described
in this paper. Some say a hurricane can be summed up in two words "Death Storm".
A hurricane is the name applied to migratory tropical cyclones that originate over
oceans in certain regions near the equator, and particularly to those arising in the West
Indian region, including the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico.
Most hurricanes originate within the doldrums, a narrow equatorial belt
characterized by intermittent calms, light variable breezes, and frequent squalls, and
lying between the northeast and southeast trade winds. As the doldrums of the Atlantic
are situated largely to the north of the equator, hurricanes do not occur in the South
Atlantic Ocean. The Pacific doldrums extend north and south of the equator; thus
hurricanes occur in the south and north Pacific Oceans.
Hurricanes generally move in a path resembling the curve of a parabola. In the
northern hemisphere the storms usually travel first in a north westerly direction and in the
higher latitudes turn toward the northeast. In the southern hemisphere the usual path of
the hurricane is initially to the southwest and subsequently to the southeast. Hurricanes
travel at varying rates. In the lower latitudes the rate ranges from 8 to 32 km/hr and in the
higher latitudes it may increase to as much as 80 km/hr. Those areas in which the
hurricane winds blow in the same direction as the general movement of the storm are
subjected to the maximum destructive violence of the hurricane.
Hurricane Emily packed winds around 80 miles per hour and was a level 3.14
Hurricane Emily's gale force winds hit North Carolina at 39 miles per hour, but that was
all.15 Emily brought 115 miles per hour winds and heavy rains to the Outer Banks in
1993. It dumped 4 to 8 in. of rain.16 Hurricane Hugo packed 135 miles per hour winds
and killed 21.17 It was the worst in 35 years to hit Charleston, South Carolina. It killed
tourism instantly but temporarily.
Most hurricanes reach velocities of 100 to 180 miles per hour, and a radius of 6 to
60 mi. Hurricanes could have a diameter of up to 2,000 mi.18 That is a very large one.
The eye has light winds of up to 6 and60 miler per hour. It has minimum surface
Hurricanes use to be detected by land reports. Now they can be detected by air.
Hurricanes started to get their names in 1953 by the United States Weather Service. The
National Hurricane Center can predict hurricanes by using models. Professionals can
track a hurricane in 20 minutes and error free within 48 miles.20 By hurricane season of
1996 a 36 hour forecast should be as accurate as a 24 hour forecast was 2 years ago.21
That concludes my research paper on floods and hurricanes. This paper tried to
show you how dangerous and how horrible the natural disasters really are. Floods and
hurricanes cause nothing but turmoil anywhere they happen. This paper states that floods
and hurricanes are as dangerous now as ever, but thankfully they are being controlled
more and more each year.