What Is A Hurricane?

Watch this video from National Geographic and learn how hurricanes form and how meteorologist are learning new ways to predict them.

Source: Hurricanes 101 | National Geographic

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Awesome in force…and deadly in impact.

Hurricanes… also known as cyclones & typhoons… sweep across the globe each year with violent resolve. An average hurricane releases as much energy in a day as the explosion of half a million small atomic bombs.

But what causes them to form and how can we better prepare ourselves for them?

Hurricanes form in the summer and fall, when the sun heats vast stretches of tropical ocean water to over 82 degrees. Warm, moist air rises over these hot spots, creating thunderstorms. Upper level winds and surface winds then come together, forming a circular pattern of clouds known as a tropical depression.

While over the ocean, the storm can gather strength measured by wind speeds. Once a storm gathers sustained wind speeds of above 38 mph, the World Meteorological Organization gives the tropical storm a name . Once maximum sustained winds reach 74 miles an hour, we call it a Hurricane and categorize on a scale of one to five depending on its wind speeds.

While a hurricane’s category is often used to describe its strength, that doesn’t always measure potential destruction or number of casualties. Storm surges, rainfall amounts and the size of the storm can make a low category hurricane more deadly.

Giant storms can reach heights of nearly 9 miles and stretch over 500 miles in diameter. That’s nearly the size of Texas . Hurricane Sandy’s tropical storm winds stretched 1000 miles and is the largest hurricane on record in the Atlantic.

The huge bands of rain, hundreds of miles long, high speed winds over 73 miles per hour, and deep storm surges over vast areas make hurricanes into a potentially lethal force.

Most hurricanes spend their time over the oceans gathering strength and then disintegrate. Some, however, eventually hit land, leaving entire cities and communities devastated.

As average global temperatures are on the rise, scientists believe storms are becoming even more disastrous.

Within seven years of each other, the US endured two of the worst hurricanes on record: Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

Scientists are now finding better ways to track the path of hurricanes by flying into the storm to measure wind, pressure, temperature, and humidity as well as to provide an accurate location of the center of the hurricane, also called the eye of the storm.

New data collected is used to help us predict the storm with more accuracy.

The ultimate goal is to have more time to warn residents before a deadly storm strikes.