September 1, 2017

How Do Hurricanes Form?

This past week Hurricane Harvey devastated parts of Texas. Before the flood waters have even receded, another powerful storm, Hurricane Irma, is developing in the Atlantic. Hurricanes are the most powerful storm on earth. But how do hurricanes form?

How Hurricanes Form

Hurricanes form when moist air rises over warm ocean waters. The humid, warm air meets cooler air at higher altitudes, creating large storm clouds. Add wind and circulation and you have all the ingredients for a superstorm.

Where Hurricanes Form

Hurricanes form over the ocean in the earth’s equatorial regions. The scientific name for these super storms is Topical Cyclone, but they have different names depending on where they form. For example, in the Indian Ocean they are called cyclones. In the South Pacific nearest Asia they are called typhoons. If they form in the Atlantic Ocean or the Pacific nearest North America they are called hurricanes.  These storms are also given actual names, just like a person. In the southern hemisphere, tropical cyclones rotate clockwise. In the northern hemisphere, counterclockwise.

Hurricane Season and Categories

Hurricane season season runs June 1 and November 30. When a storms has sustained wind speeds of 39 mph, it is officially labeled a Tropical Storm. Once winds reach 74 mph, it’s a hurricane.  Hurricanes are categorized by the highest sustained wind speeds. There are five categories of hurricanes:

Category 1: 74 to 95 mph

Category 2: 96 to 110 mph

Category 3: 111 to 129 mph

Category 4: 130 to 156 mph

Category 5: 157+ mph

Hurricane Harvey Relief 

With 130+ mph winds, Hurricane Harvey was a Category 4 storm when it came ashore in Texas. I have a family member in Victoria, TX, where winds topped 110 mph. Her home received extensive damaged, but she and her family made it safely through the storm. Harvey has impacted hundreds of thousands of people. Lives have been lost, others turned upside down. Growing up in Florida, I have experienced the devastation of hurricanes first hand, but Harvey is different. Parts of Texas received over 3 feet of rain! Our hearts go out to all dealing with the aftermath of this storm! For those wishing to help the recovery effort, here is a link published by the New York Times, WHERE TO DONATE TO HARVEY VICTIMS.

Ironically, it’s tragedy that often inspires the best in us. Here again is an opportunity to show our compassion for one another, an opportunity to help people who suffering, an opportunity to show that we are one human family.

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