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Hurricanes, cyclones, and typhoons are a major hazard in the Tropics. Every year, some 80 occurrences claim, on average, 20 000 lives and cause immense damage to property, natural vegetation, and shipping. A hurricane is a large rotating storm around a centre of very low pressure with values of 950mb or lower. Most systems have a diameter of about 650km, less than half that of a mid-latitude depression. Wind speeds often exceed 33m per second (119km per hour) …

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…on many residences and industrial buildings. Some complete building failures. Small buildings overturned or blown away. Complete destruction of mobile homes. Storm surge greater than 5.Sm above normal tide. Major damage to lower floors of all structures less than 4.5m above sea-level within 500m of shore. Low-lying escape routes made impassable by rising water 3-5 hours before hurricane centre arrives. Massive evacuation of residential areas on low ground within 8-16km of shore possibly required.