General Question

Carly's avatar

Why is the media calling hurricane Irene "extremely deadly" when it's currently only a category 1 level?

Asked by Carly (4555points) August 27th, 2011
16 responses
“Great Question” (3points)

is the media just hyping it up, or is Irene really super scary like the headlines are saying? I know hurricane Katrina’s disaster was mostly due to the levees breaking, but it was also a category 3 (I think) and that sounds much more “deadly” than something considered a “1.”

Of course any storm big enough to be considered a hurricane is very serious, but I’m still wondering if I should really be worried about friends that live in that area of the states.

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syz's avatar

We’ve gotten off pretty lightly, thankfully. But it’s still a big, slow moving storm, and the biggest risk seems to be flooding.

syz (35695points)“Great Answer” (2points)
deni's avatar

I think because of a.) flooding and b.) it is hitting extremely heavily populated areas.

SavoirFaire's avatar

Many of the news reports are focused on New York City, which is ill-prepared for a hurricane. The storm could do a lot of damage there even if it does not get any more powerful. And as @syz and @deni have said, the flooding could cause problems that will outlast the hurricane itself. I’m hoping that Irene has been over-hyped, but I’m also not parking under any trees.

lillycoyote's avatar

God, I know, I’m one of those people, but is the media, and which media if so, actually referring to the storm as “extremely deadly?” I just haven’t heard that phrase so far.

Even so, all storms are different. The category designation is just that, a specific set of conditions that defines what a storm is, not necessarily the impact or destruction it will have on any particular area. Category 1s tend not to do a lot of structural damage because the winds are not that intense but as to a storm’s effects, for example, in my area we have had the wettest August on record and the ground is absolutely saturated. That means that a category 1 storm could 1) cause flooding here and not cause as much or severe flooding in an area that hadn’t had the kind of rainfall we’ve had and 2) because of the rainfall we’ve had a lot of the trees are just primed to fall down. That kind of thing, rather than the winds, rather than the intensity of the storms can cause property damage and kill people.

JLeslie's avatar

Well, you want people to take it seriously, and of course local stations and the weather channel should be almost 24 hour Hurricane Irene to make sure the information is getting to everyone. How to prepare, where it is, when city services will be shut down, evacuations, where to go if you need shelter, etc. Since a lot of news comes out of NY, it is not surprising the media has focused on it. Category 1 is not that big of a deal, but it will still leave somewhat of a mess. NY has water pumped out daily to begin with, add high tide and storm surge, not a great combination.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

As a category 1 storm it will have winds of at least 75 mph. Have you ever stuck you head out of a car window when you were going that speed. I doubt it. Now, can you imagine sticking your head out of a car’s window at that speed and being hit by something hard flying through the air? Take the storm seriously. Stay safe.

funkdaddy's avatar

National media outlets are clustered on the east coast, so serious storms there seem more “real” and tend to get greater coverage than the same storm in the Caribbean, Florida, or the Gulf of Mexico.

incendiary_dan's avatar

Maybe warning people about it will make it less deadly, because they won’t go out and do stupid shit in a hurricane.

WestRiverrat's avatar

Because it has killed several people in the Bahamas and the other Caribbean islands it has hit, as well as the US.

augustlan's avatar

Falling trees have killed three people in the Washington, DC area, including an 11 year old boy. :(

PhiNotPi's avatar

The category of a hurricane is found by measuring the wind speed. Even though the wind speed only has a maximum of 73 mph (this is the maximum wind speed for a tropical storm, which it has been downgraded to), it is still a massive storm. At one point, it was over 500 miles across. It has spawned several tornados. It is headed straight towards the largest city in America, which is not well prepared for a hurricane. There is no way for it not to be deadly.

filmfann's avatar

This was over hyped by the media. Yes, it was a hurricane, but it isn’t Katrina. Much of the time it wasn’t even a hurricane.

gorillapaws's avatar

I had several trees hit my house, totaling my two-level deck, and damaging my roof. Nobody was hurt, but it easily could have been much worse. We’re probably going to be without power for several days at the minimum. Due to the media coverage, I went to my parents’ house since they don’t have nearly as many trees. Given how close I might’ve come to having my house collapse, I think it’s best to be over prepared than dead. I don’t think the media should sensationalize natural disasters, but encouraging the public to be prepared for a worst-case-scenario is responsible journalism.

SavoirFaire's avatar

I think @incendiary_dan got it right. Just because something is less dangerous than it could have been doesn’t mean it’s not dangerous at all. The storm was less destructive than anticipated in part because we were prepared. But there were still more than 20 deaths—a number that only seems small if you didn’t personally know any of the people killed.

And I can’t help thinking of this in response to the claims of over-hyping.

mattbrowne's avatar

Suppose you’re standing in the middle of an highway. A truck doing 40 mpg hits you (category 1). Now compare this to a truck doing 80 mph (category 5). Difference to you?

filmfann's avatar

I was wrong on my answer to this question.
In California, our building codes are designed to deal with Earthquakes, and when there is a small one, say under 6, usually there is no damage.
I have watched Category 1 hurricanes hit Florida, and do very little damage.
It did not occur to me that New York would suffer, because of drainage issues and buildings not designed to withstand something that doesn’t cause much trouble in Florida.
My response was unthinking, and I apologize.

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