The first page of a newspaper is “prime” real estate. It’s where the most important stories are often found. That’s why it’s helpful to understand what’s behind those stories – because they matter.
Here’s some background on a “prime” story this week.

Hurricane Happenings

When the warm ocean water of summer meets moisture in the air and the winds bring it all together, the conditions are right for a hurricane. That’s why these storms are so often in the news once summer sets in. Here’s some background to help you understand the stories you are likely to read coming up in the news during the next few weeks.

In 1900, meteorology, the study of weather, was a new science, and predicting the weather was difficult. On September 8 of that year, a fierce hurricane swept into the southern United States in the Texas island city of Galveston. A full century later, it still reigns as one of the worst natural disasters in American history - and one of the biggest mistakes in meteorology. The local weather bureau knew that a storm was in the Gulf of Mexico, but the forecasters were certain it would head to Florida. It did not.

It gathered strength, the wind whipping up to 145 miles per hour. The storm pushed a surge of water ahead of it, a wall of waves that smashed into Galveston, leveling homes and sweeping people into the violent water. When it ended, 8,000 people - one-fifth of the island’s population - had died, and $20 million in damage resulted. Today a similar disaster might cause billions of dollars in damage, but $20 million was a great deal of money back then.

The word “hurricane” is the name applied to fierce tropical storms that start over oceans in certain regions near the equator. In the Atlantic Ocean, these storms are called hurricanes; in the Pacific Ocean, they are referred to as typhoons.

Hurricanes form only above warm ocean water. Warm, water-saturated air is forced upward by cooler, denser air, and the storm begins to swirl around a center, the eye of the storm. Once the wind speed hits 74 miles per hour, the storm is classified as a hurricane, which can sometimes spread more than 400 miles wide. Within the eye of the storm, which averages 15 miles in width, winds stop and clouds lift, but the seas remain very violent. Hurricanes travel at varying rates, anywhere from five to fifty miles per hour.

Hurricane Season runs from June 1 – November 1 each year but the prime time – the time when hurricanes are most likely – is mid September. So, keep your eye on the news to see where the next name storm hits.

What to watch for:
  • Other weather news and phenomena
  • What people do to prepare for challenging weather

Here are today's "prime" news stories. Are any of these mentioned in your news today?

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