The Stages of Hurricanes Formation Explained

Hurricanes develop gradually, but once fully formed, they may actually last for weeks, wreaking destruction whenever they make landfall. They develop from the slightest disturbance, going through various stages in the process. Thunderstorms, or tropical disturbances, forming in tropical ocean waters, sometimes become a tropical depression. When atmospheric conditions are right, these storms will form a depression, whose center may be holding winds that range from 23-39 mph. These are located through their low pressure, slight rotation and are believed to form over troughs in the ocean. Occasionally, these depressions intensify and become tropical storms.

Once a tropical storm has developed we begin to hear about it’s development, it’s progress and direction, because these sometimes lead to hurricanes. A tropical depression may take as little as a half day, or as long as 2 or 3 days to develop into a tropical storm. Likewise, the storm may take only a short period of time to develop into a full blown hurricane. By monitoring tropical storms closely, we have more time to observe the potential hurricane and predict where it will make landfall. Tropical storms have wind speeds anywhere from 39-73 mph. The storm becomes organized, and begins to form a circular pattern, resembling a hurricane. The tropical storm stage is fed by warm water, and the storm may actually exist for well over a month.

Hurricanes are exaggerated versions of tropical storms. They have the same rotation, but with much more power and intensity. Spiral rain bands circle the distinctive “eye” of the hurricane. The eye wall is known for it’s heavy rains, and most intense winds. The chief difference between a tropical storm and a hurricane is the wind speed. When the speed exceeds 64 knots, it will be classified as a hurricane. As the hurricane moves across the ocean, it’s classifications will change due to the rise and fall of the wind speed. As a rule, the hurricane phase will only last for a few days, however, this is enough time to get the word out and warn those in it’s path.

The understanding of hurricane development has been a valuable asset to meteorology. By understanding how hurricanes form, we get a better idea of if and how they are developing, which in turn gives people in their path more chance for preparation, or evacuation. Determining when ,or if, it will make landfall as well as the category has been a life saver for many people in hurricane prone areas.

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