TITLE: THE HURRICANE STORY
Down here in Nigeria, many of us are pretty well informed about how our natural disasters come about because it is just as simple as describing ourselves. Actually, it literally means describing ourselves. But that is a gist we will always talk about, so let’s talk about something we would never even bother to talk about if we didn’t see it once in a while on TV or heard about it through some other form of media.
Yea, remember that cyclone that carried Dorothy’s house to a strange new country? That’s it.
What are Hurricanes?
Hurricanes have been described as the most violent storms on earth. The term hurricane is however used to refer to large storms that are born over the Atlantic or Eastern Pacific oceans. The particular name these storms are called depend on the regions where they are formed. For example, Typhoons are used for the tropical storms that form near the Philippines or China seas. But scientifically, they are all referred to as Tropical cyclones no matter where they are formed.
How are Hurricanes formed?
No. They are not caused by the vengeful breath that sizzles from the nostrils of an angry God…well, at least not scientifically.
Scientifically, brewing a hurricane requires water, heat (80°F) and air. Thus, this storm only form over warm ocean surfaces close to the equator.
As the air over the surface of the water is warm and moist, it soon drifts upward, leaving a region below of lower air pressure.
In turn, surrounding air of higher pressure swirls in to replace the air that has gone up. The new air warms up soon and drifts in the same manner as the former, creating a region of lower air pressure again. The whole cycle continues with the surrounding air of higher pressure replacing the warm moist air that has drifted up.
The air which drifts up soon cools off to form cumulonimbus clouds. And this system of cloud and wind continues to build up as long as there is heat, water and air to feed it. Soon this storm system begins to spin.
So you can say NASA space place (2017) description of tropical cyclones as “giant engines that use warm, moist air as fuel” is pretty apt.
But that’s not all.
This column of clouds rotate faster as it grows and soon forms thunderstorms with rains. The eye of the storm, which is an area of very low pressure within the walls of the storm clouds, remains calm.
According to NASA Space place, “When the winds in the rotating storm reach 39 mph, the storm is called a “tropical storm.” And when the wind speeds reach 74 mph, the storm is officially a “tropical cyclone,” or hurricane.
However, when a tropical cyclone hits land, it ferocity begins to die out, but not before causing a lot of wind damage and dumping rain.
How bad can a hurricane get?
Tropical cyclones have been placed into five categories.
Category 1 (74-95mph) causes minimal damage on land. Category 2 (96-110mph) causes moderate damage.
Category 3 (111-129mph) causes a more extensive damage.
Category 4 (130-156mph) causes extreme damage.
Category 5 (157mph or higher) causes catastrophic damage.
Why are hurricanes named?
“Using names for these storms makes it much easier for meteorologists, researchers, emergency response workers, ship captains and citizens to communicate about specific hurricanes and be clearly understood.” (Geology.com)
After an interval of six years, an already retired name of a Hurricane can be used again. However, names of tropical storms that were really severe are permanently retired from use. For 2017, they are names like Gert, Irma, Harvey, e.t.c And there are several other names.
So now you know a good bit!