When they were supposed to be evacuating for their own safety last weekend, some Broward County, Fla., residents instead stayed behind to try to make money from hurricane Frances - on eBay. More than 170 remnants of the storm have turned up for sale there, among them four Tupperware containers filled with some of its "wind." How do we know they're authentic? Because accompanying photographs show the collectors out "catching" some of the 115 m.p.h. gusts. One early bid: $10. No comment from eBay, but an Internet shopping analyst said she thinks the sellers are just "trying to find a sense of humor, which is a good thing."
Rating hurricanes: Gentle names belie harsh effects
There are five grades of hurricanes, and Florida has the unenviable distinction of experiencing two of the most severe within 30 days, while bracing for perhaps a third - Ivan, currently in the Caribbean. Until Charley and Frances blew through, no state had seen a pair of Category 4 storms in such close succession. Fortunately, they weren't of the Category 5 variety, with winds upwards of 155 m.p.h, a level reached by Andrew in 1992, Camille in 1969, and the "Labor Day" hurricane of 1935. According to the National Weather Service, wind speed is the main determinant of the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale, with the storm surge (or height of the water pushed on shore) more dependent on the continental shelf in the landfall region. The categories of hurricanes, their wind-speed ranges, and the height of the storm surge that characterizes each:
Category One Winds: 74-95 m.p.h Storm surge: 4-5 feet
Category Two Winds: 96-110 m.p.h. Storm surge: 6-8 feet
Category Three Winds: 111-130 m.p.h. Storm surge: 9-12 feet
Category Four Winds: 131-155 m.ph. Storm surge: 13-18 feet
Category Five Winds: above 155 m.p.h. Storm surge: greater than 18 feet