Weather News

What would Hurricane Dorian’s gusts of 140 mph feel like if you were standing in it?

Hurricane Dorian was producing gusts of 130 to 150 mph Monday as it battered the Bahamas, which brings up a sensible question: What’s it like getting hit in the face with hurricane-force winds?

Unpleasant is the short answer, particularly if those winds carry debris.

One analogy might be the experience of free falling 1,500 feet. By the time you reach the ground, you’d be going about 120 mph, according to The Free Fall Research Page of Green Harbor Publications.

It’s also close to stock car speed, without a windshield, at Bristol Motor Speedway or Darlington Raceway — two short NASCAR tracks, where speeds reach a maximum of about 120 mph, according to SportsRec.

At the high end, such gusts would be like riding the world’s fastest roller coaster. The Formula Rossa at Ferrari World in Abu Dhabi goes from 0 to 150 mph in four seconds, according to Amusement Parks USA.

Dorian has been as strong as a Category 5 (with sustained 185 mph winds) and Tuesday fell to Category 2 (110 mph sustained winds), which means it went from “devastating” to “extremely dangerous,” according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Category 2 winds range from 96 to 110 mph. That means “well-constructed frame homes could sustain major roof and siding damage. Many shallowly rooted trees will be snapped or uprooted and block numerous roads. Near-total power loss is expected with outages that could last from several days to weeks,” according to NOAA.

Experts predict high winds across much of the Carolinas and Georgia as the storm passes, with gusts of 50 to 60 mph near the coast. Those speeds are enough to knock over a 100-pound person, Kait Parker, a Weather Channel meteorologist, told the publication How Stuff Works.

Gusts across the middle of the state will be 25 to 35 mph. That is the point where it gets hard to walk, according to Mountaineering Scotland. “You may find that your foot does not quite land where you had planned it to,” according to the site.

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Jackie Sparnackel abandons her van and her belongings near the Frisco Pier after overwash stranded her vehicle as the wind and rain of Hurricane Irene batters the Outer Banks in 2011 CHUCK LIDDY News & Observer file photo

The National Hurricane Center says it’s possible Dorian could weaken to a Category 1 hurricane by the time it reaches the Carolinas. The storm will still be “very dangerous” if that is the case, according to the hurricane center.

Winds would be in the 74 to 95 mph range, which would strip off vinyl siding and gutters, “snap branches off large trees and topple smaller ones,” says NOAA.

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