Hurricane Preparedness Guide

What is a hurricane

A hurricane is a powerful tropical cyclone characterized by low-pressure centers, strong winds, and heavy rain. It typically forms over warm ocean waters and derives its energy from the heat released when moist air rises and cools, leading to condensation and the formation of clouds. Hurricanes are classified into different categories based on their wind speeds, with Category 1 being the least intense and Category 5 being the most severe.

So is it called a hurricane or a cyclone.

Hurricanes are always tropical cyclones but all tropical cyclones are not hurricanes. A tropical cyclone is a rotating organized system of clouds and thunderstorms that originates over tropical or subtropical waters and has a closed low level circulation. Tropical cyclones are classified as one of the following, tropical depression Tropical Storm Hurricane or Major Hurricane.

Note in the North Pacific hurricanes are called typhoons.

Tropical Cyclone Classifications.

The maximum sustained wind speed determines the tropical cyclones classification based on The Saffir Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale. The Saffir Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale was developed in 1971 by civil engineer Herbert Saffir and the director of the U S National Hurricane Center meteorologist Robert Simpson.

The following are the wind speed classifications.

Tropical Depression. A tropical cyclone with maximum sustained winds of 38 mph 33 knots or less.

Tropical Storm. A tropical cyclone with maximum sustained winds of 39 to 73 mph 34 to 63 knots.

Hurricane. A tropical cyclone with maximum sustained winds of 74 mph 64 knots or higher.

Major Hurricane. A tropical cyclone with maximum sustained winds of 111 mph 96 knots or higher corresponding to a Category 3, 4, or 5 on the Saffir Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale.

Hurricane Seasons

The hurricane season refers to the period in the year which tropical cyclones are most likely to form in a particular area. It is based on the ocean tempatures and favorable atmospheric conditions for tropical storm development. Ninety seven percent of all tropical cyclones form during the official hurricane season. The highest months for tropical cyclone formation are August, September, and October.

The Hurricane seasons are as followed.

Eastern Pacific Hurricane Season May Fifteenth to November Thirtieth.

Atlantic Hurricane Season June first to November Thirtieth .

Central Pacific Hurricane Season June first to November Thirtieth .

What is a storm surge

A storm surge is the rise in sea level near the coast which can result in significant coastal flooding and pose a serious threat to coastal communities.

The storm surge is mostly brought on by the hurricanes powerful winds and the low air pressure pushing water inland.

A storm surge can have catastrophic effects. The high water levels have the potential to flood coastal communities seriously damaging infrastructure and residences. Additionally the force of the flowing water can demolish dunes degrade beaches and weaken buildings close to the coast. In addition the storm surge may be accompanied by strong waves increasing the likelihood of damage and endangering people and property.

What is a feeder band

A feeder band refers to a band or ribbon of clouds that spirals into and wraps around the center of a tropical cyclone. Feeder bands serve as the primary mechanism for transporting warm, moist air from the surrounding environment into the center of the storm. As this moist air converges towards the hurricanes center, it rises and condenses, releasing latent heat energy. This process fuels the hurricanes development and intensification. Feeder bands can reach hundreds of miles from the center of the tropical cyclone or hurricane and cause localized flooding and severe wind damage.

Hurricane Watches and Warnings

A hurricane watch is issued when hurricane strength winds are possible in the area in the next 48 hours, while a hurricane warning is when hurricane strength winds are expected in the next 36 hours. A tropical storm watch is issued when tropical storm winds are possible in the area in the next 48 hours, while a tropical storm warning is when tropical storm winds are expected in the next 36 hours. Tropical storm warnings and watches are not just used exclusively for tropical storms. They can also be issued for the outlying areas of a hurricane warning or watch.

How do tropical cyclones and hurricanes get their names

Tropical cyclones are named by the World Meteorological Organization using a twenty one letter list of names, alternating between male and female names. The letters excluded from the English alphabet are Q, U, X, Y, and Z. These names are rotated every six years. Names associated with destructive or deadly storms are retired.

What is the eye of the hurricane

At the core of a hurricane is the eye, this is a circular shaped area with relatively low winds and precipitation. It is also where the barometer is the lowest.

What is the eye wall.

A hurricane eyewall is a ring of powerful thunderstorms that surrounds a hurricane or tropical cyclones eye. The eyewall is distinguished by its powerful winds, heavy amounts of precipitation, and high cumulonimbus clouds. The eyewall is where the most powerful and destructive weather occurs and where the wind speeds are at their maximum.

What causes a tropical cyclone or hurricane to rotate

The spin or rotation of the hurricane is a result of the Coriolis force. The Coriolis force is a result of the Earths rotation and why hurricanes north of the equator rotate counter clockwise verses the clockwise rotation of storms south of the equator. The Coriolis force is zero at the equator which is why tropical cyclones never form within 5 degrees of the equator.

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