Hurricanes Essay

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Hurricanes start when warm, moist air from the ocean surface begins to rise rapidly, where it encounters cooler air that causes the warm water vapor to condense and to form storm clouds and drops of rain. The condensation also releases latent heat, which warms the cool air above, causing it to rise and make way for more warm humid air from the ocean below. As this cycle continues, more warm moist air is drawn into the developing storm and more heat is transferred from the surface of the ocean to the atmosphere. This continuing heat exchange creates a wind pattern that spirals around a relatively calm center, or eye, like water swirling down a drain. Converging Winds Create Hurricanes Converging winds near the surface of the water collide, pushing more water vapor upward, increasing the circulation of warm air, and accelerating the speed of the wind. At the same time, strong winds blowing steadily at higher altitudes pull the rising warm air away from the storm’s center and send it swirling into the hurricane’s classic cyclone pattern. High-pressure air at high altitudes, usually above 30,000 feet (9,000 meters), also pull heat away from the storm’s center and cool the rising air. As high-pressure air is drawn into the low-pressure center of the storm, the speed of the wind continues to increase. As the storm builds from thunderstorm to hurricane, it passes through three distinct stages based on wind speed: •Tropical depression—wind speeds of less than 38 miles per hour (61.15 kilometers per hour) •Tropical storm—wind speeds of 39 mph to 73 mph (62.76 kph to 117.48 kph) •Hurricane—wind speeds greater than 74 mph (119.09 kph) Scientists Debate Cause of Temperature Changes that Create Hurricanes While scientists agree on the mechanics of hurricane formation, and they agree that hurricanes are becoming more frequent and severe, that’s

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