Understanding the Deadly Force of Hurricanes: 5 Key Reasons

why are hurricanes so dangerous

All weather events are unpredictable and come with dangers. Hurricanes top the list of the most savage storm systems.

Hurricanes do happen outside the US but are known as tropical cyclones or typhoons. The massive storm system develops when warm ocean water and air naturally amp up pre-existing weather disturbances.

We will go into the eye of the storm to better understand why hurricanes are so dangerous.

Why are hurricanes so dangerous?

First and foremost, a hurricane is dangerous because it is an unpredictable weather event. Just because a region has not experienced a hurricane in years doesn’t mean one can’t develop this season.

A hurricane is more than wind and rain. In a matter of hours, one can shift to a Cat 5 and catch entire coasts off guard. It is never the wrong time for storm preparedness, and it could make all the difference.

5 Reasons Why Hurricanes Are So Dangerous

When an evacuation order goes out, some people find it hard to leave their property and belongings behind. But, you must follow what feels like heavy-handed advice. 

If you can’t leave, locate the nearest shelter and the route to take there quickly. 

Simply put, hurricanes are dangerous as hell.

High winds

For sure, the high winds associated with hurricanes cause structural damage. But it leads to more than a few loose shingles.

  • Downed trees and power lines.
  • Dangerous flying debris.
  • Damage to buildings and building collapses.
  • Widespread power outages.
  • Distributions with transportation and damage to vehicles.
  • Injury or death.


Debris is not only dangerous when it is flying. Hurricane winds pick up everything in its path and scatter it about. Step on random glass, ragged metal, and other hazardous objects can lead to bacterial diseases and life-threatening infections.


Tornadoes tend to pop up in embedded thunderstorms in the rain bands and nowhere near the eye of the storm. But that doesn’t mean it never happens near the center. Remember, hurricanes are unpredictable, so always expect the unexpected.

And tornadoes are dangerous on their own and get exponentially more when caused by a hurricane.

Rain and flooding

The rain that accompanies hurricanes is more than an inconvenience. Torrential rains lead to flooding, which can bring dangers such as landslides and debris flows.

Following evacuation orders is super serious business. The only way to escape a flood is to have already left for higher ground.

Storm surge

Storm surges will always be a threat with a hurricane and go further than just the coastline. Look at Hurricane Katrina. The unrelenting storm surged came in 6 miles inland in a lot of areas and up to 12 miles where there were bays, rivers, and other big water sources.

Why are storm surges the most dangerous part of hurricanes?

Storm surge is an irregular rise of water above the normal tide level. And, the higher the tide, the worse the storm surge. 

The primary cause of a storm surge is the circular winds that a tropical storm or hurricane creates. And the result is walls of water rushing inland and causing destruction in its path.

What’s the difference between storm surge and storm tide?

  • Storm Surges. Storm surge is an abnormal rise in water caused by hurricane-force winds. It can get well over 20 feet high and span hundreds of miles along the coastline.
  • Storm Tides. Sometimes storm surges and tide charts have a child that causes wreckage.

Getting Your Ready for a Hurricane

A tropical storm can shift into a hurricane overnight and catch entire populations off guard. But, there are ways you can prepare your home for the possibility of a busy hurricane season (especially in Florida, which receives 40% of all US hurricanes).

5 Steps to Prepare for a Hurricane

  1. Clearing your property and yard is the only way to reduce the threat of flying and dangerous debris.
  2. Boarding up your windows (w/ screens or shutters) and doors puts up a barrier between your family and the hurricane. It helps to protect your home, too.
  3. Know how to turn off your electricity, and be ready to do so.
  4. Have a stock of drinking water in clean water containers.
  5. Gather other supplies in the worst-case scenario (aka a bug out or emergency kit for home & car including food). And make sure you can receive information even with no power.

What’s the difference between a hurricane watch and a hurricane warning?

  • Hurricane watch. It means there are hurricane conditions that could lead to one. It must have sustained winds of at least 75mph. A hurricane watch is typically triggered 48 hours before an expected tropical storm.
  • Hurricane warning. Experts do their best to issue hurricane warnings 36 hours before tropical-force winds to give residents time to evacuate in case of escalation.

FAQs about Hurricanes

Why are hurricanes so powerful?

Hurricanes are capable of doing all sorts of damage. Winds that can top more than 155 miles per hour, torrential rain, and storm surge make them the most powerful weather event. Not-so-fun fact: A hurricane can use as much energy as a 10,000 nuclear bomb.

When is hurricane season?

The typical hurricane season runs from June 1st to November 30th. 97% of hurricanes happen in those six months. September is the most active hurricane month, and May is the least. But there is that 3% chance that a hurricane could pop up when we least expect it.

What is the main cause of death in a hurricane?

The life cycle of a hurricane includes tropical storms and tropical depressions. At any point, they can cause storm surges and inland flooding. As the number 1 and 2 cause of death in a hurricane, water is the most threatening danger, and there is no just getting away.

How long do hurricanes last?

The average hurricane lasts between 12 and 24 hours, and the recommendation is that you prepare for the worst. It includes having enough supplies to get through the aftermath, too.

How does a hurricane end?

When hurricanes hit land, they tend to weaken pretty quickly because they no longer have the warmer waters to feed from. However, as they move inland and slow down, they can dump an incredible amount of water, leading to deadly flooding.

Are hurricanes getting stronger?

Hurricanes are indeed becoming stronger, as indicated by recent research published in the journal Nature. The study utilized data gathered from numerous scientific instruments deployed across the Earth’s oceans, revealing a trend of intensification in weak tropical cyclones, including tropical storms and low-category hurricanes.

What causes 90% of deaths in hurricanes?

Flooding, primarily resulting from hurricanes and tropical cyclones, is responsible for approximately 90% of deaths caused by these natural disasters, with roughly half of those fatalities attributed to the storm surge.

What kills the most people in hurricane?

The leading cause of hurricane-related deaths in the United States is historically storm surge, which refers to the abnormal rise of water caused by a storm’s winds. This hazard, along with the accompanying large battering waves, can result in significant loss of life and cause extensive destruction along the coast.

What stops hurricanes?

Hurricanes are impeded by the presence of dry air in the mid levels of the atmosphere. This occurs in two ways: firstly, the dry air causes liquid water to evaporate, which in turn cools the hurricane and restricts its warm core structure. Secondly, it limits the vertical development of convection.

Can a hurricane cause a tsunami?

A hurricane cannot cause a tsunami, but it can potentially contribute to a surge in water pressure when its wind speed intensifies nearby. Tsunamis are primarily triggered by earthquakes, underwater explosions, or meteorite impacts, although they can also be generated by phenomena involving the displacement of water due to strong winds.

Is there anything worse than a hurricane?

There is something worse than a hurricane, and that is a typhoon. Typhoons are typically more powerful than hurricanes due to the presence of warmer water in the western Pacific, which provides ideal conditions for storm development. The abundance of warm water in this region also leads to a higher occurrence of typhoons.

Where is it the calmest in a hurricane?

The calmest part of a hurricane is in the eye, which is located at the center. Above the eye, the skies are usually clear and the winds are relatively light. This section of the hurricane is actually the calmest because the strong surface winds that converge towards the center never reach it.

What’s the dirty side of a hurricane?

The dirty side of a hurricane is typically considered to be the storm’s right, front quadrant. Meteorologists commonly use the term “dirty side” to refer to the eastern (right) side of a tropical system or hurricane. While all parts of a tropical storm or hurricane can generate severe weather, this particular section is known to be even more intense, hence the term “dirty.”

How long can a hurricane last?

A hurricane can last for a duration of at least two weeks while over open water and has the potential to traverse the entire length of the Eastern Seaboard. The hurricane’s formidable winds, ranging from 74 to 160 miles per hour, can reach hundreds of miles inland.

Why are hurricanes more dangerous?

Hurricanes are becoming increasingly hazardous due to climate change, as highlighted by a recent study. The United States is experiencing a rise in both flooding and wind damage caused by hurricanes, and this pattern will intensify and pose a significant threat to millions of individuals as global temperatures continue to rise, according to new research.

Why is a hurricane so powerful?

A hurricane is incredibly powerful due to the combination of favorable wind conditions, which transform the storm into a hurricane, and the presence of heat energy acting as its fuel. The warmer the water, the greater the amount of moisture in the air, resulting in the potential for larger and stronger hurricanes.

What was the worst storm in history?

The worst storm in history, in terms of the number of fatalities, was the Galveston hurricane of 1900. This single storm claimed more lives than the combined total of the next two deadliest tropical cyclones to hit the United States since then. It stands as the deadliest natural disaster ever recorded in the United States.

What is more powerful than a hurricane?

A tornado can be more powerful than a hurricane, as it can generate winds exceeding 300 miles per hour, whereas the strongest recorded Atlantic hurricane had winds of 190 miles per hour.

Where does all the water go after a hurricane?

The water from a hurricane goes through various processes. According to Chris Milliner of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, around 60 percent of the water is lost or drained into the ocean and Galveston Bay within the first few days after the storm. The remaining 10 percent is lost through evapotranspiration, which is a combination of evaporation and plant transpiration.

How bad can hurricanes get?

Hurricanes have the potential to reach extreme levels of destruction, causing catastrophic wind damage and resulting in significant loss of life due to the sheer force of their winds. Additionally, all categories of hurricanes are capable of generating deadly storm surge, floods caused by heavy rainfall, and tornadoes.

Are hurricanes the worst natural disaster?

Hurricanes have caused the most deaths and destruction among all recorded weather disasters in U.S. history.

How long do hurricanes last?

Hurricanes can last for a duration of at least two weeks while over open water, and they have the potential to travel across the entire length of the Eastern Seaboard. The powerful winds of a hurricane, ranging from 74 to 160 miles per hour, can reach hundreds of miles inland. Additionally, hurricanes have the ability to generate tornadoes, which contribute to the overall destructive nature of the storm.

Are hurricanes deadlier than earthquakes?

Hurricanes are more common than earthquakes and have the potential to cause greater damage.

By Anita Brown

Anita Brown is our go-to contributor to our emergency preparedness website. Anita brings a wealth of personal experience and professional expertise to the table, having weathered several awful natural disasters. Anita is currently working towards obtaining her Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) certification.