Hurricane What is the Size of a Hurricane?

The size of a hurricane is usually determined by the diameter of its hurricane- and gale-force winds. The average diameter of hurricane-force winds is 100 miles, while the average diameter of tropical storm (gale) force winds is 300 to 400 miles. However, this varies from storm to storm. For example, Hurricane Carla had a diameter of hurricane-force winds of 300 miles, and diameter of tropical storm (gale) force winds of 500 miles. Hurricane Celia, a small but intense storm, had a diameter of hurricane force winds of 80 miles and gale force winds of almost 200 miles. Other large storms include Hurricane Gilbert in 1988 and Hurricane Camillie in 1969 (See Figure 6).

Hurricanes are also classified according to windspeed and barometric pressure. The Saffir-Simpson Scale rates hurricanes on a scale of one to five, where five is a catastrophic hurricane. These scale numbers are damage estimates that the storm would cause if it were to strike land. Since a hurricane constantly changes intensity, its scale changes accordingly.

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