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Do You Know What a Hurricane Is?

If you live in Florida, Bahamas or the intercoastal coastline of the United States, you may prepare yourself for hurricanes every single year.  Hurricanes can be scary.  Most people don’t know what a hurricane is but knows what destruction it can cause.  We are going to go into some details about hurricanes and how they get started.

What is a Hurricane?

A tropical cyclone is what a hurricane is.  It is a low-pressure system and often forms in climates that are humid such as: Florida, Bahamas, Parts of Texas, Louisiana and other humid climates.  Along with the hurricane, comes a thunderstorm. 

If you happen to live in the Northern Hemisphere, you will notice that the hurricane circulates counterclockwise.  If you hear on the news that a tropical cyclone is headed your way, they are trying to tell you that the hurricane can be a: hurricane, tropical storm or tropical depression. 

These are large storms that tend to swirl.  Believe it or not, hurricanes are fastening than a cheetah running at top speed.  The hurricane will form on top of warm ocean waters.  Therefore, the Atlantic Ocean is such a good place for hurricanes to form.  Palm Beach, Miami and Tampa Florida are most prone to hurricanes during May 20th to November 30th

What is a Tropical Depression?

A tropical depression is a well-organized group of clouds and thunderstorms with winds of around 38 miles per hour or less. 

What is a Tropical Storm?

If you turn on CNN and hear that a tropical storm is coming your way, it means that very powerful thunderstorms that are circulating at around 39 to 73 miles per hour are coming your way. 

Your local and national news stations will often tell you to beware of these types of storms.  They will often knock out electrical power and throw loose debris around.  Its wise to not walk around outside during a tropical storm. It’s best to stay in a shelter that is tropical storm proof. 

Learn More About a Hurricane?

A hurricane can be life threatening and cause structural damage when it makes landfall.  Hurricanes can have sustained winds of 74 miles per hour and higher.  Recently, Florida has been warned about two major hurricanes over the past 3 years. 

Irma and Dorian were expected to be between a category 4 and 5.  If they would have made landfall, it would have caused major destruction of homes and possibly loss of life.  Thank goodness Florida missed these two hurricanes. 

Unfortunately, in August of 2005, hurricane Katrina hit Louisiana as a category 5 storm.  This was one of the worst storms to ever make landfall on American soil.  This hurricane had wind speeds of up to 174 miles per hour. 

Hurricanes like this don’t happen often. However, when they do hit the mainland of any country, they cause mass destruction and loss of life.  People often go without electric, water and the ability to get to food for around one to four weeks.  G

overnors and politicians always urge people to prepare for a storm of this magnitude days in advance before the storm makes landfall.  Hurricane Katrina costed the United States 125 billion dollars in damages. 

Today, politicians across the United States know the devastation of what a hurricane can bring and often alert its citizens of a dangerous storm when it approaches.

Even the governor of Florida Rick Scott warned Floridians in September of 2017 to get out of the state because Irma was going to be huge. If hurricane Irma would have hit Florida in 2017, it would have caused the same kind of destruction that hurricane Katrina caused Louisiana in 2005. 

What Categories Can a Hurricane Be?

When the news announces a hurricane, it will often announce the winds with a category. The categories can range from 1 to 5.  A category 1 is the weakest and a 5 is the strongest.

Its always a good idea to check with a local hurricane window company for the strength of your windows. It’s good to find out if the windows in your home are hurricane impact proof and if they are, what category of winds can they withstand in a storm? 

If you watch your local news or CNN, they will start to give the hurricane names when the cyclone has winds of 39 miles per hour or more. 

Category 5 is winds that are 157 miles per hour and higher.

Category 4 winds that are 140-156 miles per hour and higher. 

Category 3 is between 111-129 miles per hour.

Category 2 is between 96 to 110 miles per hour.

Category 1 is between 74 to 95 miles per hour. 

What Are Some of the Names of Recent Hurricanes?

Harvey (2017)

Irene (2011)

Michael (2018)

Lorenzo (2019)

Humberto (2019)

Irene (2011)

Another problem with hurricanes is that it brings on shore with it a lot of water.  This causes flooding during a hurricane and can often flood out entire neighborhoods. 

It takes weather specialist to predict how and where the hurricane will make landfall.  Most hurricanes tend to shift as well.  The news can tell you that the hurricane is heading straight for you and then within a couple of days, the storm takes a shift and can end up somewhere else. 

These are often shown using spaghetti models. There is a European and American spaghetti model that is often used to predict where the hurricane will go exactly. 

The Best Way to Look at a Hurricane:

An interesting fact is that the hurricane has different parts to it. There is a hole in the center of the storm.  This is known as the eye of the storm.  The winds are often light with cloudy skies.  The skies are often cloudy and can even be clear. 

If the news is telling you that the eyewall is heading straight for your county, it means that the strongest part of the storm will be hitting you.  This means that if they are predicting 130 mile per hour winds in the eyewall, you are going to experience a lot of flying debris, house destruction and possibly loss of life.

It’s best to get to a hurricane shelter before the hurricane comes.  Also, remember that heavy rain comes with the hurricane. This means that you can experience flooding.  If you look at hurricane Katrina, it clearly showed people walking through water often waist or neck deep. 

If a hurricane is headed your way, the news will often mention rain bands.  Rain bands are the bands of clouds that are outside of the hurricanes eye wall.  These rain bands can be for miles.  Therefore, entire states are often evacuated if the rain bands are hundreds of miles wide.  It can cause mass destruction throughout an entire state. 

It’s also possible that a rain band can have tornadoes in them as well.  If you live in places like Florida, you will most likely hear the news issuing warnings for tornado watch. 

Before the hurricane forms, it will first become a tropical disturbance. Afterwards, it grows into what we call a tropical depression.  The tropical depression will then become a tropical storm.  Afterwards, tropical storms become a hurricane.  As you can see, the storm slowly progresses and is often easier to predict with computer models. 

Why Do Hurricanes Form?

Even in today’s high technology world, scientists are still baffled as to why hurricanes form.  Scientists don’t know exactly how they form. However, they do know that in order to have a hurricane, you need warm water and winds that stay consistent.  This is a perfect recipe for a hurricane. 

Why Do We Name Hurricanes?

The main reason we name hurricanes is because multiple hurricanes can form at the same time.  If the news tells you that a hurricane is forming in off the coast of Florida, you may wonder if it’s the same hurricane that you heard about two days ago.  It can get confusing if hurricanes are not named. 

The news begins to name hurricanes when they are a tropical storm. The name of the tropical storm will stick with it if it becomes a hurricane. The storms are named in Alphabetical order. 

The main information about hurricanes comes from NASA.  This is because we track storms from space using satellites that take pictures of the storm.  When NASA releases the pictures, it often goes viral in the news, social media and other outlets. 

Many of these satellites can track warm weather and other aspects of the hurricane. It can show size of the storm as well. 

NASA flies’ airplanes into the storm as well as above the storm to see the size of the hurricane and predict is strength.  Hurricanes are dangerous and NASA will often use airplanes that are not operated by human beings to fly into the storm.  Flying a human being into the storm could be life threatening.