What Is a Hurricane?

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Hurricanes are categorized by the Saffir-Simpson scale (see Table I.2).

In this course, the term storm surge refers to the rise in the level of the ocean that results from the effects of wind and the drop in atmospheric pres- sure associated with hurricanes and other storms.

In the United States, 158 hurricanes were recorded to have made landfall between 1900 and1996. Hurricanes have made landfall in Florida more than in any other state. The second most hurricane-affected state is Texas, but every state on the Gulf Coast and bordering the Atlantic Ocean, as well as U.S. island possessions and territories, are susceptible to damage caused by hurricanes.

In recent years, the U.S. territories of American Samoa and Guam have been seriously affected by numerous tropical cyclones.