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Car takes on floods. (Photo D. Allen Covey / Courtesy VDOT)The Science Behind the Storms

By Kyle Orland
Maryland Newsline
Thursday, Nov. 13, 2003

1. Why do most hurricanes in the Northern Hemisphere move from east to west?

Because they are attracted to the cooler, drier coast of North America.
Because the hurricane’s natural rotation pushes it westward.
Because the tropical trade winds blow from east to west.
Because that’s the way the earth rotates.

2. Fill in the blank: Doubling the maximum wind speed of a hurricane will _________ the damage the hurricane does.

More than double
Exactly double
Less than double
Have no effect on

3.  What are the top conditions needed for a hurricane to form?

A cluster of tropical thunderstorms combines with warm, moist ocean air.
Extremely warm and extremely cold fronts collide over the ocean.
An oceanic tornado creates a circling mass of clouds.
A butterfly flaps its wings in Asia.

4. Why does a hurricane’s intensity decrease rapidly over land?

Because of friction between the storm and the ground.
Because bits of dust and dirt picked up by the storm slow its rotational inertia.
Because the opposing jet stream pushes the hurricane in the opposite direction.
Because the land is rougher, cooler and not as moist as the ocean.

5.  Which of the following is NOT a major difference between a hurricane and a land-based cyclone?

Hurricanes have no fronts.
Hurricanes weaken rapidly over land.
The centers of hurricanes are warmer than their surroundings.
A land-based cyclone's winds can't reach hurricane-force speeds.

6.  Which of the following is NOT used to measure a hurricane’s wind speed?

Data from weather satellites.
Wind-measuring buoys.
An analysis of wave height and storm distance.
Special wind monitors dropped by planes.

7.  What is the expected maximum sustained wind speed for a class five hurricane—considered the most destructive?

At least 115 mph
At least 128 mph
At least 155 mph
At least 172 mph

8.  In what part of a hurricane are the strongest winds found (in the Northern Hemisphere)?

The “right” side of the hurricane (the northern side for a west-moving storm).
The “left” side of the hurricane (the southern side for a west-moving storm).
The eye.
The edge of the eye.

9.  At what sustained wind speed does a tropical storm become a hurricane?

61 mph
67 mph
74 mph
89 mph

10.  Which of the following is NOT a positive environmental effect of a hurricane?

Hurricane-induced floods add nutrients to marshes.
Hurricane winds aid birds
in their migration.
Intense rain causes soil run-off to estuaries threatened by rising sea levels.
Land eroded from beaches can form new habitats.

Copyright © 2003 University of Maryland Philip Merrill College of Journalism

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