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Storm Watch

Think you could take on a strong storm? Before you get carried away, here’s what you really need to know about hurricanes, tornadoes, tsunamis, and thunder and lightning.

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This stunning electric storm is as fascinating as it is deadly.

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Hurricanes can be up to 600 miles across and travel at speeds of 75 to 200 mph. The effects of a hurricane can often be felt before it even arrives.

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 Tornadoes generally last between two to three minutes. The ones that really do spectacular damage are about 15 minutes long.

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Tornadoes move at such high speeds that they have no trouble tossing a 2000 to 3000 pound van into the air. They have been known to freight sideways off their tracks.

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Every thunderstorm is dangerous because each produces lightning and can also bring tornadoes, hail, strong winds and flash flooding.

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A tsunami is not a tidal wave, but rather a series of waves, known as a wave train. A tidal wave can be predicted since they are produced by the daily tides. A tsunami can’t be predicted since it’s caused by some violent disturbance in the ocean such as an earthquake or hurricane.

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The sound of a tornado changes depending on how close it is to the ground. Those passing just above ground sound like bees. Tornadoes higher up can sound like a train, jet plane or waterfall.

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Flash Flooding

Flash flooding and rivers overflowing usually are the result of an abnormally heavy rainfall in a short time frame. It takes only hours for a flash flood to happen but days for a river to overflow.

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When a tornado strikes at sea they are known as waterspouts or vortexes. In North America, the Florida Keys see the largest number of waterspouts per year-400 to 500 per season.

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Hurricanes need warm water below and cool wind above in order to form. The wind must also be blowing in the same direction in order to force warm air from the ocean upwards to meet the cool air.

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Remember the 30/30 lightning safety rule. Head for indoors if you see lightening but can’t count to 30 before hearing thunder. Stay indoors for 30 minutes after hearing the last clap of thunder.

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Cloud-to-ground lightning is the second most common type of and is the most dangerous threat. It comes from a discharge between a cumulonimbus cloud and the ground.

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Most people are struck by summer lightening when caught outdoors in the afternoon and evening.

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The term cyclone and tornadoes are often mixed up. A cyclone is any area of low pressure while a tornado is a violently rotating column of wind. Both are equally damaging.

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Depending on how the light is striking them, most tornadoes appear as white, black or gray. When viewed from the west, tornadoes appear white. Viewed from the east with sunlight behind, they appear black.

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Storm Surges

One of the most devastating after affects of a hurricane is the storm surges. As the hurricane’s winds spiral around, it pushes water up into its centre and when it hits lands the water is let go in a huge wave that floods the area.