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Science Behind Hurricanes

Dr. Abhinandan Bhardwaj PhD


Hurricanes are violent tropical storms with  winds minimum speed of at least 74 mph. They form over warm ocean waters, usually starting as storms. As they drift slowly and are fueled by the warm waters of the tropics. Warm, moist air moves toward the center of the storm and spirals upward. This releases torrential rains. Once the group of rotating storms churn up enough water to get wind speeds up to 120 Km per hour, it is  called a hurricane. As updrafts suck up more water vapor, it triggers a cycle of strengthening that can be stopped only when contact is made with land or cooler water.

Inside the Hurricane:

A hurricane is a powerful storm that measures several hundred miles in diameter. Hurricanes have two main parts. The first is the eye of the hurricane, which is a calm area in the center of the storm. Usually, the eye of a hurricane measures about 20 miles in diameter, and has very few clouds. The second part is the wall of clouds that surrounds the calm eye. This is where the hurricane's strongest winds and heaviest rain occur.


Difference Between Hurricanes and tropical Storms:
Tropical storms are storms that have winds between 39 and 73 miles per hour. Hurricanes are more severe and more dangerous forms of tropical storms. They have winds of 74 miles per hour or more. These storms form over oceans and seas, like the Atlantic Ocean, the Caribbean Sea, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Pacific Ocean.

Watch Hurricane Video




Hurricane Scale

Although all hurricanes are dangerous, some are more so than others. A hurricane's destructive power is a combination of storm surge, wind, rain, and other factors. Hurricanes are categorized are as follows:

Winds are 74 to 95 mph; storm surge is 4 to 5 feet above normal. The hurricane has a barometric pressure of 28.95 inches with no real damage to building structures.

Winds are 96 to 110 mph; storm surge is 6 to 8 feet above normal. The pressure is between 28.50 and 28.94 inches. There may be moderate damage to roofing material, doors, and windows.

Winds are 111 to 130 mph; storm surge is 9 to 12 feet above normal. The pressure is between 27.91 and 28.49 inches. Damage can be extensive with some structural damage to small buildings. Terrain continuously lower than 5 feet above sea level may be flooded inland as far as 6 miles.

Winds are 131 to 155 mph; storm surge is 13 to 18 feet above normal. The pressure is between 27.17 and 27.90 inches. Some extreme damage will take place. Major erosion of beach areas and major damage to lower floors of structures near the shore will occur. Massive evacuation of residential areas inland as far as 6 miles may be required.

Winds are greater than 155 mph; storm surge is greater than 18 feet above normal. The pressure is less than 27.17 inches. The damage can be devastating. Some buildings may be blown over or away. Major damage to lower floors of all structures located less than 15 feet above sea level and within 500 yards of the shoreline is likely. Massive evacuation may be required of residential areas on low ground within 5 to 10 miles of the shoreline.


What to do Before a Hurricane: Check here for more details

              How Hurricanes form -  Courtesy NASA    watch Video





Hurricane Tips
Learn about  about what you should before Hurricane strikes

Dr. Abhinandan Bhardwaj PhD

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