There is nothing like them in
the atmosphere. Born in warm tropical waters, these spiraling masses require a
complex combination of atmospheric processes to grow, mature, and then die. They
are not the largest storm systems in our atmosphere or the most violent, but
they combine these qualities as no other phenomenon does.
In the Atlantic
Basin, they are called hurricanes, a term that echoes colonial Spanish and
Caribbean Indian words for evil spirits and big winds. These awesome storms have
been a deadly problem for residents and sailors ever since the early days of
colonization. Today, hurricane damage costs billions of dollars. During this
century, 23 hurricanes have each caused damage in excess of $1 billion (adjusted
for inflation). Damage from Hurricane Andrew (1992) alone was estimated at more
than $25 billion in South Florida and Louisiana and undoubtedly would have been
higher had the storm hit Miami directly.
Thankfully, the number of people injured or killed during
tropical cyclones in the United States has been declining, largely because of
improvements in forecasting and emergency preparedness. Nonetheless, our risk
from hurricanes is increasing. With population and development continuing to
increase along coastal areas, greater numbers of people and property are
vulnerable to hurricane threat. Large numbers of tourists also favor coastal
locations, adding greatly to the problems of emergency managers and local
decision makers during a hurricane threat.
Hurricanes cannot be
controlled, but our vulnerability can be reduced through
The Richelieu Apartments before
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