The Life Cycle of a Hurricane

As with all living and natural events, the life cycle of a hurricane cannot be classified in exact terms, certainly in respect of time. However, with regard to the stages of the life cycle that are applicable to hurricanes, these are relatively uniform.

To give birth to a hurricane, which is spawned from the more frequently experienced storm conditions, a number of atmospheric and weather conditions need to come together at the same time. According to research reported by the BBC, there are two major influential factors required in an equation that will lead to the development of a hurricane. The first is a need for “a source of very warm, moist air,” which can usually be found in tropical oceans. The temperature of this air has to exceed 26C. The second aspect is the rotational spin of twist of the earth at the time.

These and other events lead to hurricane birth. In simple terms the warm air rises, creating a low-pressure surface area that attracts trade winds, which form a spiralling effect. The rotational effect of the earth starts the twist that helps develop the cylindrical effect of wind around a calm eye, creating something that from the air resembles a spinning top, and then the hurricane begins to move.

The continuing journey from a hurricane’s birth and through adolescence to becoming a fully-fledged hurricane is fed from the evaporation of warm air, which creates low pressure at higher levels. As air rises to fill these low-pressure areas, so more warm moisture is drawn from the seas, in effect creating a self-perpetuating system.

At its height, a hurricane can travel between three to four hundred miles a day, and this journey can last as much as ten days, making the total distance covered by this natural phenomenon around three thousand miles. Most of this self-generating journey will be made over water in a westerly direction, with a slight tendency to head towards the pole. However, if the hurricane moves too far north or south the polar winds can cause a reversal of its path, for example changing from west to east. During the course of this journey, the speed of the hurricane will be increasing.

It the majority of cases the impending death of a hurricane is usually signalled when it reaches land. The additional friction of the landmass, which is not present on a water surface, distorts the hurricane’s airflow. In addition, it will have lost its energy source, the water. This together with the dust that is clouding the eye of the hurricane, leads to the final demise, though not before it has inflicted serious damage.

Therefore, a hurricane is born, lives on average for a period of around ten days, during which time it journeys thousands of miles before performing its destructive dance of death, usually over land.