We’re all familiar with hurricanes, their dangers, categories, names, and so on. Yet few of us truly understand what’s going on when we’re watching news coverage of a hurricane. So, in this article, we thought we’d give you a closer look at how a hurricane evolves, along with the passage of time.
This is something we feel everyone should be familiar with, particularly if you live in an area that is prone to heavy storms and hurricanes, such as Florida. Also, if you live in such places, where hurricanes are likely to happen, we urge you to keep an eye out and have an emergency plan of what to do in case of a hurricane. We also recommend installing hurricane impact windows and insuring your property against hurricane damage. Remember, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Right, so how are hurricanes formed?
Hurricanes usually begin with a storm. Step 1 will usually be classified by experts as a “tropical disturbance”, which is basically a codeword for a storm that lasts for more than 24 hours, and spreads across at least 100 miles.
They will usually hail from the African coast, moving steadily towards the west, in the form of tropical waves. Usually, it’s meteorologists who will keep an eye on such developments. If experts believe that a disturbance is likely to spiral into something more, they will investigate the situation.
Step 2 begins when the storm starts interacting with the ocean below. Since the ocean is warmer than the storm, it will cause warm air to rise towards the tropical disturbance. The warm air will steadily begin to evaporate and spin, and then cool progressively, forming a cyclone (also referred to as a tropical depression). As the low pressure of the spinning cumulus continues to suck in adjacent air, the cyclone will grow bigger and more dangerous.
The 3rd step of the process takes place when the pressure at the core of the tropical depression tanks, thus giving rise to strong winds. By attracting strong winds, the tropical depression shifts to a tropical storm, and this is when people begin to be truly wary of it. It’s also when the storm is given its very own name.
Step 4 is basically a worse version of Step 3. As the tropical storm progresses, it can either become subdued, or the pressure can drop even further (which usually happens if the storm passes over a bit of warm water), causing stronger and stronger winds to form. At this stage, what began as a tropical disturbance is officially classified as a hurricane. Naturally, the hurricane will then be categorized on a scale from 1 to 5, depending on how serious the damage extent is (this can range from mild – Category 1 – to catastrophic – Categories 4 and 5).
Obviously, the way a tropical disturbance evolves is determined by a variety of factors, such as pressure, ocean heat, and so many others. But it’s a good idea not to overlook news of a tropical disturbance or storm, as these can quite easily spiral into a hurricane.