Hurricanes were named at first, in the early fifties, with girls names; then ten years later, both girls and boys were so honored. Names are retired when one so named hurricane has been particularly destructive and will need to be known as that particular tragedy that happened where and when. If the twenty one names are all used and there’s more needed, Greek alphabet names fill in. They follow along in this fashion, alpha, beta, gamma, delta, and so on. Therefore, ladies and gentlemen whisper softly as you enter our waters.
Hurricanes are spiraling winds of seventy four miles per hour and beyond that encircled areas is a near normal. This interior is the eye of the storm and it is lined with clouds and rain. Hurricanes with destinations west begin in the dry barren desert areas near Africa. From there they move out over the ocean and continue westerly while growing fiercer according to the amount of energy they are producing. It is this self empowering energy that causes these spiraling winds to develop into hurricanes or into tropical storms and then eventually dissipating.
By the time they reach the Caribbean they are forced northward by trade winds. These westerly winds are not so troublesome after they reach 25 to 30 degrees latitude -on their trek north they reach this at “the top of Florida”. Onward, the prevailing US weather has much to do with the outcome of the storm. These fronts and jet streams and wind directions determine whether a hurricane continues northward along the east coast or will go farther west and come on land somewhere on the Gulf coast or into Texas or Mexico.
These rotating natural dynamos, of winds anywhere from twenty to seventy plus mph move along at about twenty or twenty-five miles an hour. Inside these vertical swirling tunnels – of varying diameters – there is calm and the atmosphere is clear and the sky is visibly bland. Planes even fly into them.
What is the difference between hurricanes and typhoons? Those that occur in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans are called hurricanes; those occurring in the Philippines and China and Japan area are typhoons. The Atlantic hurricanes usually form in African waters and are forced westward by trade winds and veer north by east bound winds when in the Caribbean.
Hurricanes in the Eastern Pacific begin in the warm areas in Central America and Mexican Coasts. Storms of this magnitude west of the International Date Line are called Typhoons. In 1953 WMO (World Meteorological Society) has designated specific names for hurricanes. This would make tracking and information easier and would keep records more accurately.
Other variants in hurricane descriptive terms are Cape Verde Island Hurricanes that occur, on the average, about two a year. These occur near these Islands usually in August and September and they reach hurricane force before reaching the Caribbean.
When trying to imagine events and make them more understandable, especially hurricanes, we compare them to people. We too have periodically needs to blow off steam. In fact our systems are designed along the same way. When children have temper tantrums they are frustrated in their efforts and this is natural way of blowing off steam.
Another comparison is a tea kittle that when the water is heated to a certain temperature gives off water vapor in the form of steam. Nature works along these lines likewise. When a force interferes with the natural order of things, friction is created. A reaction must then take place and is continued until the energy produced is lessened. The coolant where hurricanes are concerned is the land and the cooler waters as it moves north.
A thought to ponder: One average hurricane creates enough energy that could possibly supply all the energy needed in the Unites States for a whole year. What a waste. For more information check out NOAA, (National Oceanic & Atmospheric Association); ScienceDaily and How Stuff Works; cotf.edu/etc/; redcross.org/ and more online sites. There are diagrams and pictures and everything you ever wanted to know about hurricanes.