Here are the answers to hurricane questions submitted by readers.

You can submit your own question, here.

Q: In order to not overload a generator, it seems necessary to keep track of how many watts your home is using. Approximately how many watts does an in ground pool's pump use? – Kathleen (Cooper City)

A: It is very important to keep track of how many watts your pump uses. It is difficult to tell without knowing how many horsepower the pump is, without knowing the size of the pool, etc. It has been reported that a 3/4 horsepower pump would use about 800 watts and a two horsepower pump would use upwards of 2000 watts. In most of these publications, I have seen the two hp model called "grossly oversized" for most backyard in ground pools, so yours may be smaller. Please contact your manufacturer for more information about your specific pump. – JF, 07/24

Q: I would like to know the starting and running wattage of my refrigerator so I can buy a proper size generator. - Rose R. (Delray Beach)

A: It is difficult to find the wattage of your specific refrigerator with the information that you gave me. Ohm's law says that the volts multiplied by the amps gives the wattage, so if you had that information, you could find out the running wattage of the refrigerator. Of course, the amps depend on the size of the refrigerator as well as the amount of work it needs to do to run at whatever temperature it is set at.

The guideline I have found repeatedly, with regards to refrigerators, is that the typical running wattage of is 700 watts, and the typical starting wattage is 2200 watts. This is for a normal, full-size refrigerator that is about 16 cubic feet. Keep in mind that you will have to have a generator that is prepared for all of your appliances to turn on at the same time (air conditioners, refrigerators, and other devices that are automatic) so your generator should be able to handle the maximum surge value.

Further information on generators can be found – JF, 07/24

Q: Are the safety films for windows effective, or do they only prevent shattering? I also heard they can cause the glass to break in large pieces, creating daggers. – John (Boca Raton)

A: According to the government's Hurricane Research Division, safety films are not viable substitutes for shutters. They serve only to protect the glass in the window, and not the window frame. Therefore, the frame is under pressure and the entire frame could blow out.

Additionally, the films protect the glass and keep it from flying out, but they do not prevent breakage. Therefore, if the entire window does fail, the protected shards of glass could fly out in larger pieces, creating the dagger scenario.

If at all possible, use shutters on all of your windows. – JF, 07/24

Q: How does a hurricane form? – Various

A: There are several important things to know about hurricane formation. Let's start with the various steps that allow a hurricane to grow, and then we can talk about some of the conditions that promote hurricane growth.

Tropical cyclones begin formation over the warm waters of the tropics. Disturbances that eventually become hurricanes grow due to warm, moist air rising from the surface.

As the warm air rises, water vapor (the gas form of the water molecule) begins to condense and form water droplets and storm clouds. The process of condensation releases head, which then warms the air above it. This air begins to rise, and more warm air from the ocean surface begins to rise.

This process creates a surface circulation around a low-pressure center and higher pressures aloft. This cycle continues while the hurricane is over the warm waters, forming a heat engine that allows the hurricane to feed and grow.

The high-pressure aloft spins opposite of the surface circulation and will facilitate the outflow of the created clouds tops and rising air near a height of six miles (30,000 feet). This then allows more air into the system at the lower levels and the cycle repeats itself while the conditions are ideal for growth.

There are four main factors that influence whether a hurricane can form.