Hurricanes (also known as Tropical Cyclones)

Hurricane Alex, a Category 3 storm at its strongest, traveled north along the east coast of North America in August 2004 causing flooding, strong waves, and rip tides along the coast.
Click on image for full size (305 Kb)
Courtesy of NOAA

As a strong hurricane heads towards a vulnerable coast, people take precautions - boarding up houses, packing the car, and evacuating. These massive storms can spell disaster for people in hurricane prone areas, so they are taken seriously. They are the most powerful of all weather systems and they are huge - 340 miles in diameter on average.

Hurricanes form in the tropics over warm ocean water and die down when they move over land or into higher latitudes. These storms are called hurricanes in the Atlantic and typhoons or tropical cyclones in other areas of the world. In the Northern Hemisphere the storms rotate counterclockwise and in the Southern Hemisphere they rotate clockwise due to the Coriolis Effect. At the center of the rotating storm is a small area of calm weather and clear skies called the eye. While the eye may be calm, the area directly around it - called the eyewall - is often the most dangerous part of the storm.

Hurricane damage in coastal areas is often due to storm surge, which floods coastal areas. Strong waves and wind also batter coastal areas. Hurricanes also cause a tremendous amount of rain. Not all storms are the same. Large and strong storms cause much more damage than small storms. Scales are used to describe the size of a hurricane. In the Atlantic and Eastern Pacific, the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale is used.

As hurricanes move, meteorologists try to forecast where and when the storm will reach land in order to warn people. Hurricanes are tracked over large distances with weather satellites. To forecast where the storm will go, meteorologists use computer models that take into account factors of the storm and the atmosphere. Since 1953 each hurricane has been given a name to help warn people that a storm was on its way.

In the North Atlantic, hurricanes typically happen between June 1st and November 30th. This is known as hurricane season. More hurricanes form in the North Atlantic between August and September than any other time of year. Other regions of the world have somewhat different timing of hurricane season, but in all areas the season overlaps with the summer months when the warmest temperatures fuel the powerful storms.


Hurricane Image Gallery

Are Hurricanes Becoming Stronger and More Frequent?

Weather

Earth's Atmosphere

Hurricanes (also known as Tropical Cyclones)

Hurricane Alex, a category 3 storm at its strongest, traveled north along the east coast of North America in August 2004 causing flooding, strong waves, and rip tides along the coast.
Click on image for full size (305 Kb)
Courtesy of NOAA

As a strong hurricane heads towards the coast, people prepare - boarding up houses, packing the car, and evacuating. These storms can spell disaster for people in hurricane prone areas, so they are taken very seriously. They are the most powerful of all weather systems and they are huge - an average of 340 miles across.

Hurricanes form in the tropics over warm ocean water and die down when they move over land or out of the tropics. These storms are called hurricanes in the Atlantic and typhoons or tropical cyclones in other areas of the world. In the Northern Hemisphere the storms rotate counterclockwise and in the Southern Hemisphere they rotate clockwise because of the Coriolis Effect. At the center of the rotating storm is a small area of calm weather and clear skies called the eye.

Hurricane damage in coastal areas is often due to storm surge, which floods coastal areas. Strong waves and wind also batter coastal areas. Hurricanes also cause a tremendous amount of rain. Not all storms are the same. Large and strong storms cause much more damage than small storms. In the Atlantic and Eastern Pacific, the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale is used to describe the size of a hurricane.

As hurricanes move, scientists try to forecast where and when the storm will reach land in order to warn people. Hurricanes are tracked over large distances with weather satellites. Computer models that take into account factors of the storm and the atmosphere are used to predict where the storm will go. Since 1953 each hurricane has been given a name to help warn people that a storm was on its way.

Hurricanes usually happen at a particular time of year called hurricane season. The timing of hurricane season is different in different regions of the world. In the North Atlantic, hurricane season is from June 1st to November 30th each year.


Hurricane Image Gallery

Are Hurricanes Becoming Stronger and More Frequent?

Weather

Earth's Atmosphere

Hurricanes (also known as Tropical Cyclones)

Hurricane Alex, a category 3 storm at its strongest, traveled north along the east coast of North America in August 2004 causing flooding, strong waves, and rip tides along the coast.
Click on image for full size (305 Kb)
Courtesy of NOAA

Hurricanes form in the tropics over warm ocean water. The storms die down when they move over land or out of the tropics. At the center of the rotating storm is a small area of calm weather and clear skies called the eye.

Hurricane damage is often caused by flooding from storm surge. Hurricanes have strong waves and wind that cause damage too. And there is often tons of rain. Not all storms are the same. Large and strong storms cause much more damage than small storms. The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale is one way to describe the size of a hurricane.

As a hurricane moves, scientists try to figure out where it will go. They watch hurricanes with weather satellites and use computer models to predict its path. Each hurricane is given a name. Calling the storm by its name helps people spread the word that a storm was on its way.

Hurricanes usually happen at a particular time of year called hurricane season. The timing of hurricane season is different in different regions of the world. In the North Atlantic, hurricane season is from June 1st to November 30th each year.


Hurricane Image Gallery

Are Hurricanes Becoming Stronger and More Frequent?

Weather

Earth's Atmosphere


Page created February 13, 2009 by Lisa Gardiner.
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