Hurricane Season Gains Momentum in Late August, And Tropical Storm Isaac Serves As Major Wake Up Call

Hurricane season traditionally starts in May and runs until the end of October. During this time, three different conditions make it possible to produce a tropical storm that turns into a hurricane. Hurricanes occur mostly in the Atlantic Ocean and their Pacific counterpart is called a typhoon. Hurricanes produce a great deal of water and wind that can do horrific damage when they reach land.

Water
Water temperatures must be warm in order for a hurricane to form. The ocean waters are usually too cold to make a hurricane during May, but they start to warm up during June and July. By August waters have warmed to the perfect temperature to create a hurricane at 80 degrees Fahrenheit or warmer. Warm waters at a depth of 150 feet or more allow for the heat from the surface to escape and push into the cooler atmosphere above the water.

Evaporation
Sea water begins to evaporate because of the temperature. This evaporation process cools the surface of the water and forces moisture into the air making the atmosphere humid. The process also creates clouds laden with water. These clouds heat up the cooler atmosphere as they rise.

Wind

The ocean is popular for its cool ocean breezes. August winds lay close to the ocean waters and start to spiral in an inward fashion that pulls energy upward. The wind takes the evaporated water and forces it up further and further into the cooler atmosphere much like a chimney pulls smoke and embers up through a fireplace. The inward spiraling motion of the strong winds punch through the storm clouds, which start to spiral along with the wind, and a hurricane is born.

Damage

Hurricanes cause minor to catastrophic damage depending on the strength of the hurricane when it goes over land. Hurricane winds of 75 to over 155 miles per hour can extend 90 to 200 miles from the center, or eye of the storm. Damaging wind is not the only problem. Flooding is also most likely to occur and some storms spawn damaging tornados.

Hurricanes don’t always occur during their season as it depends on weather conditions and the temperature of sea water. Although it is not likely to have a severe hurricane in the early part of the season, it can happen. Hurricanes also have been known to strike outside the season in November, but conditions are perfect for a storm to gather during the month of August.

Updated: August 24, 2012 — 1:49 am

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