What Is A Hurricane?

It’s easy to get confused with the different tropical storms out there. When you hear weather warnings, you might wonder just what storm you’re dealing with. This article will help you understand what a hurricane is and what you can expect.

Hurricanes are large swirling storms that produce winds of 74 miles per hour or 119 kilometers per hour. These are just the lower limits of the hurricane’s winds.

What Is A Hurricane

These storms can cause significant damage to your health and your home, so there are warning systems in place to understand how hurricanes form. 

How Does A Hurricane Form?

Not all hurricanes will hit land, as they naturally form over warm ocean waters. While the exact ingredients needed for a hurricane aren’t known, they must have warm water and consistent wind speed.

However, when they do reach land, hurricanes can be dangerous. They push a wall of ocean water onto the shore, causing a storm surge. When accompanied by heavy rain, these storm surges can cause flooding in the vicinity of the hurricane.

Looking at a hurricane, you’ll find various parts that make one up. In the center of the storm is the eye of the hurricane. If you’re in the center of the storm in the eye, you’ll see that the winds are much lighter, and the skies are only slightly cloudy.

Around the eye is the wall of the eye where you’ll see and hear thunderstorms. These go around the eye, and through the eye wall, you can see the wind and rain at their strongest.

Surrounding the eye wall are the rain bands, which are clouds that go around the eye wall. These can stretch for hundreds of miles and can be the cause of both thunderstorms and, in some cases, tornadoes

Unsurprisingly, when a hurricane forms, weather forecasters do what they can to predict the path and strength of the storm. They predict these with the Saffir-Simpson hurricane wind scale, which measures the wind speeds and where they form.

The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale

The Saffir-Simpson hurricane wind scale is used to measure and classify hurricanes and distinguish them into five categories by the intensity of the winds.

The wind speeds are classified based on the highest wind speed that averages out based on a one-minute interval ten meters above the surface. 

Category 1 hurricanes are between 74 and 95 miles per hour or between 119 and 153 kilometers per hour. To put this into perspective, these winds are faster than a cheetah, the fastest mammal on land.

A Category 2 hurricane is between 96 and 110 miles per hour, or between 154 and 177 kilometers per hour, faster than a baseball pitcher throws a fastball.

Category 3 is between 111 and 129 miles per hour, or between 178 and 208 kilometers per hour, which is close to the serving speed of a professional tennis player.

Category 4 hurricanes have a wind speed between 130 and 156 miles per hour and between 209 and 251 kilometers per hour. These speeds are faster than the world’s fastest rollercoaster.

Category 5 hurricanes are over 157 miles per hour or 252 kilometers per hour, so their wind speeds are closer to the speed of a bullet train than anything else.

As you can see, hurricane speeds are far more dangerous than you can imagine. This is why hurricanes are frequently given names.

What Is A Hurricane

Climate Change And Hurricanes

There have been numerous discussions about whether climate change has contributed to the severity of hurricanes. Due to the chaotic nature of hurricanes, it’s difficult to detect climate change signals for hurricanes.

The most you can do is see how ocean water temperatures rise and the rainfall.

By looking at the rising water temperatures and levels of rainfall, scientists may be able to decipher how climate change has affected the intensity of hurricanes over the years. Storm surges are likely influenced by the rise in sea levels, as the sea has risen over 20cm over the last century. 

However, none of this has been truly confirmed, and more scientific research is needed. 

How Do You Name A Hurricane?

Hurricanes are given names, so it’s easy to track them and talk about storms. If a storm becomes a tropical variant, it is given a name to keep track of. However, it keeps the name given when it becomes a hurricane. 

Each year a tropical storm is given a different name in alphabetical order, which is decided that year. These names are recycled every six years, but if a storm does significant damage, its name is taken off the list and replaced with the same one with the same letter.

However, this is only done in certain circumstances. 

When Are Hurricanes Most Frequent?

There is a reason that there are hurricane seasons specific to the North Atlantic. These hurricane seasons begin on the 1st of June and continue until the end of November. You’ll find that during hurricane season, it will peak in late August and through September. 

During hurricane season, it is best to remain vigilant, as hurricanes can move further inland, and they do not only affect the coast. 

Final Thoughts

Hurricanes can be incredibly dangerous, so it’s best not to get too close. The best thing to do during a hurricane is to prepare for it. Don’t go out towards the hurricane, but try to stay in a shelter. Make sure you have supplies and that any pets you have are safe. 

You should know the difference between a hurricane watch and a warning. A hurricane watch means there’s a high possibility, while a hurricane warning means one is expected in your area.

Due to the speed and amount of damage a hurricane can do, you should make sure you and your family are prepared for one and that you either evacuate your home to a shelter or stay indoors and away from windows.

Overall, when there’s a hurricane, listen to professionals’ advice so that you, your family, and your pets remain safe.

Tim Roth
Latest posts by Tim Roth (see all)