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Hurricanes & Tropical Storms

Hurricanes are severe tropical storms that occur as a result of heavy rain falls and winds that exceed the speed of 155 miles per hour.

Thunderstorms are an important part of tropical storms and hurricanes. As other natural disasters, hurricanes are unpredicted too but one fact that has been established with the help of studies conducted by meteorologists is that it is the result of intense heat and they typically will form over warm waters.

When the heat rises, air turns warm as a result of which the air molecules start growing apart, making the air less dense. This warm air starts rising towards high altitudes due to its lightness.

This motivates the cool, dense air to move underneath it. The warm air attracts water droplets, causing the formation of storm clouds and rain drops. This formation process releases heat that makes the cool air warm and cause it to rise above. This process of warming air and formation of storm clouds continues, as a result causing the entire occurrence to rotate around the main center.

At the same time strong winds blowing at the high altitude surface forces the hot air to abandon the main center. These strong winds are responsible for keeping the storm in balance. In the absence of these winds, the storm weakens and breaks down. In addition to regulating, the powerful winds also eliminate heat from the elevated air, consequently intensifying the hurricane and air cycle. This causes the low pressure air to suck the high pressure air and the final result is in the form of hurricanes.  Since it is believed that part of the formation of the hurricane is cause by the spin of the earth, it is very rare for hurricanes to form at the equator.

Types of Tropical Storms

Tropical storms and hurricane can range in size from around 60 miles to 2500 miles in diameter.    There are three types of typical events; Tropical depression, Tropical storm, Hurricane or typhoon.  A tropical depression is the smallest of the three and while it’s a collection of storm clouds and thunderstorms it will have sustained winds below 39 mph and will not have an organized center or eye.  The next step up is a tropical storm.  The tropical storm will have more intense thunderstorms and its winds will range from 39 to 74 mph.  The third classification is that of a hurricane.  A hurricane will have sustained winds over 74 mph and will have a clearly defined center, or eye.

In the United States, NOAA’s National Weather Service has created five categories of hurricanes:

  • Category 1 will have wind speeds between 74 and 95 mph.  It is possible there could be damage to some homes, trees and power lines.
  • Category 2 will have wind speeds between 96 and 110 mph.  This could cause tree to fall blocking roads and power could be out for several days.
  • Category 3 will have wind speeds between 111 and 129 mph.  Significant building damage could occur and power could be out for days or weeks after the storm passes.
  • Category 4 will have wind speeds between 130 and 156 mph.  Most trees will be uprooted and damage to the electrical lines could take weeks or month to repair.
  • Category 5 is anything over 157 mph.  This will result in the complete destruction of most residential houses and will make the area inhabitable for months.

Where Do Hurricanes Occur?

Majority of the coastal areas often suffer from the wrath of hurricanes. They are fairly common in the Pacific coast, Southwestern United States, the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic coastal areas. The hurricanes in these areas also produce flood and heavy rainfall. The hurricane season in the eastern United States starts in June and extends till November, with mid August to October being the peak season. On the contrary, the hurricane season in Pacific coastal areas stretches from May 15 to November 30.

The damaging effects of this natural calamity are often at a large scale. They can destroy land and property, leaving behind a huge chunk of debris. These effects destructive effects can sometimes expand towards the mountainous regions. Slow moving hurricanes that migrate towards mountainous regions can cause heavy rainfall, which in turn can cause land sliding and mud sliding.

Each year there’s a list of proposed storm names generated by local weather officials.  These names are used to identify a storm as it forms and is also used to notify the public of its progress.  After a storm of significant damage has occurred, its name will be retired and not used in future years.

 


 

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