Have you ever heard of a hurricane?
Yes, a hurricane is a huge storm with speeding winds and lots of heavy rain – did you know that scientists call them tropical cyclones?
They are absolutely massive and can be up to 600 miles across and have strong whirling winds.
These winds can reach speeds of 75 to 200mph.
WOW, that sounds very scary – but how do hurricanes form?
Aaron: Hurricanes form over the ocean water of the tropics – Hurricanes only form over really warm ocean water of 80°F or warmer.
Yes, the tropics is the area near the equator – you know that imaginary line drawn around the center of the earth.
Ah yes – so it’s very warm there? Yes very hot.
Yes very hot.
When warm moist air over the water rises, it is replaced by cooler air.
The cooler air will then warm and start to rise.
This cycle causes huge storm clouds to form.
Did you know there are lots of different parts to a hurricane?
What do you mean?
Well, a hurricane has an ‘eye. An eye?
An eye? Does that mean they can see? I am a one-eyed hurricane, swooosh!
Not that sort of eye – The center of the hurricane is called the eye.
It is very calm – there are no clouds and the area has a very low air pressure.
The most dangerous part of the storm is just on the edge of the eye – it’s called the eyewall – it’s called a wall because it is made up of very heavy clouds.
The wind in here can reach up to 160 mph.
Noone would like to be in the eyewall – it is super dangerous!
There are also parts called Rainbands – these bands can cause massive floods when the hurricane reaches the land– they can drop lots of rain.
We said that hurricanes form over the ocean – so how do they cause so much damage?
When they get lots of powers they can strike land.
The damage is usually caused by massive flooding and a storm surge.
A storm Surge – what’s that?
A storm surge is when the water levels in the ocean rise along coastal areas because of the powerful storm – this can cause flooding – Hurricanes also cause damage with the high-speed winds – these can blow down trees and even blow the roofs of houses!
Sometimes hurricanes can even create small tornadoes as well.
So when do hurricanes strike?
The Atlantic hurricane season is from June 1 to November 30, but most hurricanes occur during the winter months.
The Eastern Pacific hurricane season is from May 15 to November 30.
So how do you know how strong is a hurricane?
Well hurricanes are measured by the speed of the winds within them. For example: Hurricane 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 or higher mph.
So category 5 is the worst?
Yes definitely – One of the worst hurricanes in history was the Galveston hurricane in the 1900s, which devastated the city and killed between 6,000 and 12,000 people – mostly from drowning.
That’s frightening we know.
Well the 1970 Bhola Cyclone that struck Bangladesh killed over 300,000 people.
Cyclones, hurricanes, and typhoons are just different names for the same thing
So how big can hurricanes get?
It can be up to 600 miles across and have strong winds spiraling inward and upward at speeds of 75 to 200 mph.
Each hurricane usually lasts for over a week, moving 10-20 miles per hour over the open ocean.
The largest hurricane on record is Typhoon Tip, which occurred in 1979 in the northwest Pacific.
With a diameter of around 2,220km, it was nearly half the size of the United States!
Do all hurricanes have funny names?
Yes: Then Who names hurricanes?
Hurricanes in the Atlantic are named based on a list of names given by the World Meteorological Organisation.
The names go in alphabetical order – so the first storm of the year will have a name that starts with the letter ‘A’.
There are six lists of names and every year a new list is created.
So the first hurricane of the year could very well be called Hurricane Aaron?
Who are the hurricane hunters?
I didn’t know that hurricanes were so interesting and dangerous – I have heard of hurricane hunters who are they?
The brave “hurricane hunters” work for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
Each mission lasts about ten hours, with the crews passing four to six times through the storm.
The planes carry radar, sophisticated computers, and weather instruments that determine characteristics such as temperature, air pressure, wind speed, and wind direction inside the hurricane.
By mission’s end, NOAA can warn everyone in the hurricane’s path.
Wow, they really are brave – so when was the last big hurricane?
Hurricane Andrew was a category 4 hurricane in 2005 James: So it was at the start of the season because it begins with a letter ‘a’.
Now you kids should know all there is to know about hurricanes and your head could very much be whirling like one from all the facts. An important last thing is that when a hurricane hits be sure to be with your family and listen to the government. If you are asked to find shelter go find a proper shelter where you can wait out the storm.
An important last thing is that when a hurricane hits be sure to be with your family and listen to the government. If you are asked to find shelter go find a proper shelter where you can wait out the storm.