Hurricanes are enormous swirling storms which produce winds that move at 119 kilometers per hour or more. They are also described as low pressure systems with winds that move at a high velocities. Hurricane winds cause damage to vegetation and infrastructure. Sometimes they form over warm waters and reach land. Here, they push a mass of water ashore called storm surge. This can cause flooding especially when combined with heavy rain. Forecasting of hurricanes starts immediately when hurricanes are formed. Prediction on its path and strength allows people to get ready for the storm. However, the potential damage cannot be exactly predicted even with computer-forecasting models. Its always wise to prepare for the worst situation. Inland and coastal residents are usually issued with hurricane watch or warning. The former indicates that hurricane conditions are likely to be experienced within 24 to 36 hours while the later indicates that hurricane conditions are expected within 24 hours.
Categories of Hurricanes
There are five categories of hurricanes as defined by Saffir-Simpson Hurricane scale. These categories are based on hurricane wind speeds. Category 1 is characterized by wind velocities between 119 to 153 kilometers per hour which is faster than a cheetah. Category 2 is 154 to 177 kilometers per hour, a speed faster than a pitcher’s fastball in baseball. Category 3 is characterized by winds moving between 178 to 208 kilometers per hour which matches the speed of a served tennis ball. Category 4 is for winds between 209 to 251 kilometers per hour which is faster than a roller-coaster. Category 5 are hurricanes with wind speeds more than 252 kilometers per hour which is similar to some high speed trains. The higher the category or wind speed, the greater the potential for property damage.
Anatomy of Hurricanes
The central or innermost part of the hurricane is called an eye or hole. Here, winds are a bit light, skies are cloudy or even clear. the ring of thunderstorms swirling around the eye form the eye wall. Here, winds are the strongest and rain is more heavier. To the outer regions forms rain bands which compose of clouds and rain stretching from the eye wall for hundred miles. This region usually contains thunderstorms and sometimes tornadoes. The storm surge is the most devastating element of the hurricane. Oscillating winds push water into a mound which causes flooding upon reaching the mainland. Pronounced storm surge is formed on gradually sloping oceanic floors which ends up causing major flooding.
Formation and Occurrence of Hurricanes
The method in which hurricanes are formed is not clearly defined. However, there are few things that must be present for tornadoes to be formed. One of them is warm water which provides the energy needed to convert storms into hurricanes. Formation of hurricanes demands surface waters to have a temperature of at least 26 degrees Celsius. Another important ingredient is steady winds which don’t change in speed or direction.
Timing and Origin of Hurricanes
Most hurricanes begin on 1st June and end on 30th November with a significant number occurring outside this time frame. They are known to occur at least 12 times a year in the Atlantic basin. Most hurricanes originate from the Atlantic basin which comprises of Atlantic ocean, Caribbean sea and Gulf of Mexico. They occur less frequently in Eastern North Pacific and Central North Pacific.
Studying and Naming of Hurricanes
Pictures of hurricanes are taken from space and shown on internet and televisions. Satellite measurements include cloud cover, ocean temperatures, speed and direction of winds, height of clouds and rain’s falling speed. Data obtained by satellites is used to learn more about hurricanes. Planes are also flew above hurricanes in order to obtain data. Here, instruments placed on board are used to collect data. Unmanned planes are also used where hurricanes appear dangerous. Naming of hurricanes has transformed from phonetic alphabets to women names to parts of the world where storms occur. Today, different name lists alternate each year. When a hurricane causes a significant damage, its name is replaced with another.
Hurricanes are simply large oscillating storms with wind speeds greater than 119 kilometers per hour. They cause flooding and property damage. Hurricanes are divided into five categories based on wind speeds. Warm waters and steady winds are necessary for their formation. They originate mostly from the Atlantic basin between June and November. Satellites and planes are used to obtain hurricane data. The potential damage is hard to predict, therefore, people are always advised to prepare for the worst.