So What’s A Hurricane?
A hurricane or tropical cyclone is a powerful storm that forms in the ocean and causes destruction when it hits land. These monsters are gigantic inward swirling storms, and their winds move at a speed of 75 mph (120 kph) at the least. A hurricane can happen anywhere in the world, but most occur around tropical areas (the mid-Atlantic and Pacific), and form in tropical waters.
Figure 2. View of Hurricane from above the Earth
So many Parts. . .
Although a hurricane may only look like a huge swirling object, it’s a lot more complex than that. For example, in the middle of every hurricane is an open space. That open space is called the “eye” of the hurricane. This diagram shows the different parts of a hurricane.
Figure 3. Hurricane Parts diagram
The Big Splash
The creation of a hurricane is very complex and fascinating. All through the year, gentle winds circle the earth. These winds form when cold high pressure air from the north and hot low pressure air from the south, collide around the equator, forcing warm air up into the atmosphere. This area is called the inter-tropical convergence zone, and is a perfect spot for a hurricane to form.
Meanwhile, the sun bakes the air hovering over the ocean waters. As the air warms up, it rises up into the atmosphere, taking much water vapor with it. This happening is calledconvention. After that, condensation takes place, which is when the air starts to cool and form storm clouds.
There is one last step to forming a hurricane. A wave of hot fast moving air called the African-easterly wave gains speed as it races across the continent of Africa. As it moves across the continent, the wave of wind hits mountains, which form little ripples in the wave. As the wave ripples off the African coast, it hits the storm clouds sitting over the tropics, and starts them spinning. As the wind and storm clouds move together, they begin to from a more organized band. If the two become organized enough, a hurricane will form.
After a storm comes a rainbow.
Figure 4. Hurricane Formation Diagram
Not every hurricane is exactly the same. Some are larger, some are smaller. Some do more damage than others. They even have different wind speeds. Because of all this, hurricanes are classified. There are five different types of classes. Each hurricane is classified by wind speed, central pressure, and damage potential. Hurricanes that are classified three through five are considered major and are extremely dangerous. Hurricanes classified below that are not as major, but are still very dangerous.
figure 5. Hurricane Classification Chart
Source,credits and courtesy: researchthetopic.wikispaces.com
BEFORE A HURRICANE:
- Have Have a disaster plan
- a pet plan. Before a storm threatens, contact your veterinarian or local humane society for information on preparing your pets for an emergency.
- Board up windows.
- Bring in outdoor objects that could blow away.
- Make sure you know which county or parish you live in.
- Know where all the evacuation routes are.
- Prepare a disaster supplies kit for your home and car. Have enough food and water for at least 3 days. Include a first aid kit, canned food and a can opener, bottled water, battery-operated radio, flashlight, protective clothing and written instructions on how to turn off electricity, gas, and water.
- Have a NOAA weather radio handy with plenty of batteries, so you can listen to storm advisories.
- Have some cash handy. Following a hurricane, banks and ATMs may be temporarily closed.
- Make sure your car is filled with gasoline.
DURING A HURRICANE:
- Stay away from low-lying and flood prone areas.
- Always stay indoors during a hurricane, because strong winds will blow things around.
- Leave mobile homes and to go to a shelter.
- If your home isn’t on higher ground, go to a shelter.
- If emergency managers say to evacuate, then do so immediately.
AFTER A HURRICANE:
- Stay indoors until it is safe to come out.
- Check for injured or trapped people, without putting yourself in danger.
- Watch out for flooding which can happen after a hurricane.
- Do not attempt to drive in flooding water.
- Stay away from standing water. It may be electrically charged from underground or downed power lines.
- Don’t drink tap water until officials say its safe to do so.