What Is A Hurricane?
A hurricane is a type of tropical cyclone, the generic term for a low pressure system that generally forms in the tropics. A typical cyclone is accompanied by thunderstorms, and in the Northern Hemisphere, a counterclockwise circulation of winds near the earth’s surface.
All Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coastal areas are subject to hurricanes or tropical storms. The Atlantic hurricane season lasts from June to November, with the peak season from mid-August to late October.Parts of the Southwest United States and the Pacific Coast experience heavy rains and floods each year from hurricanes spawned off Mexico.
Hurricanes can cause catastrophic damage to coastlines and several hundred miles inland. Winds can exceed 155 miles per hour. Hurricanes and tropical storms can also spawn tornadoes and microbursts, create storm surges along the coast, and cause extensive damage from heavy rainfall.
The process by which a disturbance forms and subsequently strengthens into a hurricane depends on at least three conditions. Warm waters, moisture, and a wind pattern near the ocean surface that spirals air inward. Bands of thunderstorms form, allowing the air to warm further and rise higher into the atmosphere. If the winds at these higher levels are relatively light, this structure can remain intact and allow for additional strengthening. The center, or eye, of a hurricane is relatively calm. The most violent activity takes place in the area immediately around the eye, called the eyewall. At the top of the eyewall (about 50,000 feet), most of the air is propelled outward, increasing the air’s upward motion. Some of the air, however, moves inward and sinks into the eye, creating a cloud-free area.
How Are Hurricanes Classified?
Hurricanes are classified into five categories based on their wind speed, central pressure, and damage potential (see chart). Category Three and higher hurricanes are considered major hurricanes, though Categories One and Two are still extremely dangerous and warrant your full attention.
Check Out The Hurricane Maps
Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale
NOTICE: The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale (SSHWS) is undergoing a minor modification for 2012 in order to resolve awkwardness associated with conversions among the various units used for wind speed in advisory products. NaturesFury.net will be updating our chart soon to reflect theese changes.