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What is a hurricane, how do they form and how do we classify them? - R
Did you know?
Hurricane Wilma, which took place during October 2005,
was the strongest hurricane since the records began in 1851.
Figure 1. Hurricane in Action
Science p. 7
By A. N. Ajike
So What’s A Hurricane?
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 “
” 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.
Hey! All this temperature stuff sound interesting. Click
What is temperathere
to find out more on this topic.
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 called
. After that,
takes place, which is when the air starts to cool and form storm clouds.
Want to learn more on air. click here to learn about
There is one last step to forming a hurricane. A wave of hot fast moving air called the
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. But how does a rainbow even form? To find out more on this topic click
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
+ African-easterly wave
: The hot wave of wind that gains speed as it rushes across the continent of Africa.
: When the air and water vapor in the atmosphere cools and forms clouds.
: When water warmed by the sun turns into vapor and rises into the atmosphere.
: The open space in the center part of a hurricane.
+ Hurricane (tropical cyclone
): A powerful storm that forms in the tropics and causes massive destruction wherever it hits land.
+ Inter-tropical convergence zone
: The warm wind around the tropics.
"hurricane." Compton's by Britannica. Encyclopedia Britannica Online School Edition.
Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc., 2012. web. 13 Sept. 2012.
+ Chambers, Catherine. D
isasters in Nature: Hurricanes,
Chicago: Heinemann Library, 1954. Print.
Engineering Nature: Engineering Hurricanes Discovery Channel, 2009. Full Video.
Discovery Education.web. 25 September 2012.
Glenday, Craig. Guinness World Records 2011. Mina Patria, 2011
+ Nature’s Fury.net
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