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Meteorologists classify hurricanes by categories of 1-5 using a scale that measures the wind and speed of the storm. A Tropical Depression has a highest wind speed of 38 miles per hour (33 knots), with some rotary circulation and one or more closed isobars. A Tropical Storm has distinct rotary circulation with wind speeds of 39-73 miles per hour (34-63 knots), closed isobars and a pressure of 14.0 pounds per square foot. A hurricane has strong and very pronounced rotary circulation, closed isobars, a pressure of 17 or more pounds per square foot and winds of 74 miles per hour (64 knots) and higher. The devastating class 5 hurricane exceeds wind speed of 156 miles per hour.

With a season that runs from June 1 to November 30 each year, hurricanes can leave a great amount of destruction after their driving rains, high winds and storm surges have stopped. Although September is the highest probability month of the season for a hurricane, residents of the City of Worcester should be prepared for a storm at any time.

Massachusetts Hurricanes

Generally, northeast hurricanes have ample warning. Despite the early forecasting the exact track of a storm cannot be determined until a relatively short time ahead of the storm so being prepared is critical. The strongest New England hurricanes occur when the storm travels up the east coast just off shore over water maintaining its strength.

For example, the Hurricane of 1938, 1985's Hurricane Gloria and 2011's Hurricane Irene brought damaging winds and relentless rain to the City of Worcester. Most recently, 2012's Hurricane Sandy battered the East Coast with hurricane winds and flooding causing massive amounts of damage.

Fortunately, Worcester is not susceptible to the effects of coastal flooding, however, heavy rains, high winds and strong gusts can cause significant damage including structure damage, downed trees, power disruptions, localized flooding, etc.

Flooding occurs whenever water accumulates faster than the ground can absorb it or water drainage pipes can carry it away. Rain intensity, duration and topography, as well as soil condition and ground cover all contribute to varying degrees of flooding. Residents in a flood plain should take special considerations in their emergency preparedness planning.

When a Hurricane Warning is Issued

  • Stay indoors during the storm. Often times the "eye of the storm" will appear calm as if the hurricane has passed; however it is typically only about half over.
  • Keep all windows and doors closed.
  • Stay away from windows, in an interior room if possible.
  • Listen to NOAA Weather Radio, local radio and television stations for updates.
  • Stay informed and take heed to messages from the City of Worcester Emergency Alert Notification System, ALERTWorcester.
  • Are You Ready? Prepare Yourself Before an Emergency Strikes
  • Glossary of Important Terms
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