Learn the words abnormal, catastrophic, conspiracy, intervene, kindred, spawn minimal, generate, specific and sustain in context while learning about Typhoons in a new Vocabulary Builder episode from English Plus.
The year was 1281. A giant naval force of 4,400 ships commanded by the Mongol emperor Kublai Khan, grandson of Genghis Khan, had quietly set sail from China and Korea. Their destination: Japan. The 4,400 commanders of these ships had no doubt about the purpose of this voyage. Each had been given very specific orders—they were to attack and conquer Japan. Each commander had a part to play in this grand conspiracy. Even so, this huge gathering of military strength and careful planning was doomed, not by the Japanese, but by nature, which chose to intervene.
Strong winds and storms were not uncommon in these seas, especially in August. But on this particular August day a storm struck with winds so abnormally strong that nearly all the Mongol ships were sunk, over 100,000 lives were lost, and the Japanese were saved from foreign conquerors. Such a powerful and fortunate occurrence was deemed by the Japanese to be the result of divine will. In gratitude, they named the typhoon kamikaze, from kami (divine) and kaze (wind).
Few typhoons are considered to be fortunate events. Most cause great damage and destruction as they build in strength over the ocean before moving across land. What exactly is a typhoon? Typhoons and their kindred storms, called hurricanes when they occur in the Atlantic Ocean, are the most powerful storms on earth. It is common for hurricanes to sustain winds of over 100 miles per hour for days. In 1992, Hurricane Andrew had winds that reached 200 miles per hour.
Typhoons and hurricanes are regularly generated at certain times of the year by the warm waters of the ocean. These storms begin when evaporated sea water is drawn into the clouds and begins dropping as rain. Energy in the form of heat is released by this rain, which in turn provokes strong winds. The rotation of the earth causes the wind to travel in a large, circular pattern. The warm, moist air travels toward the center or eye of the storm, where the air pressure is low. Because the air is warm, it rises, creating updrafts so fierce that they can tear the roof off a house, snap trees, and lift boats and automobiles. As if this were not enough, such strong storms often spawn tornadoes and torrential rains. Hurricanes are classified by the Saffir-Simpson scale. On this scale a storm rated 1.0 is considered minimal, while a storm that is rated 5.0 could be catastrophic. Before Hurricane Andrew, only three storms bad been rated as level 5.0. On Labor Day, 1935, a hurricane hit the Florida Keys and caused great damage. Hurricane Camille, in 1969, was another level 5.0 hurricane, as was Hurricane Allen in 1980. But, in one way, Hurricane Andrew should probably be placed in a category by itself. Causing $30 billion in damage, it was more destructive than the other three storms combined.
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