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Hurricane Facts

Posted on Tuesday, May 21, 2024
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by AMAC, D.J. Wilson
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Hurricane Facts

It’s that time of year again when U.S. meteorologists are discussing hurricane season. Live in a hurricane prone region? Read on to learn some vital hurricane facts.

What exactly is a hurricane?

Hurricanes are defined as massive storms that form over warm ocean water and move toward land in the Western Hemisphere. In the North Atlantic, central North Pacific, and eastern North Pacific, they are called hurricanes. The term typhoon is used for storms originating in the western North Pacific. The word cyclone is used in the South Pacific and Indian Ocean. These storms contain rotating, organized systems of clouds and thunderstorms that should not be confused with tornadoes.

How big are hurricanes?

Per weather.gov, typical hurricanes are about 300 miles wide, though they may vary considerably in size. The path and speed of hurricanes vary due to ocean and atmospheric interactions. Frequently, the right side of the hurricane is most dangerous, producing stronger surges, winds, and tornadoes.

What are parts of the storm?

The “eye” is the hurricane’s center, and it is relatively calm. The “eyewall” which surrounds the eye is made up of dense clouds that contain the storm’s highest winds. The rainbands are the parts which spread out of the center and primarily account for the size of the storm.

When is hurricane season?

Hurricane season commonly begins in mid-May in the North Pacific and June 1 in the Atlantic and Caribbean. These storm windows generally last until the end of November.

Is 2024 an active hurricane season?

“Active hurricane season” is a term used by meteorologists to describe a busy hurricane season in which more than the average number of hurricanes are predicted. Per Governing.com, 2024 will likely bring forth 23 named storms (higher than the norm), of which 11 are expected to become hurricanes, with five reaching major hurricane winds of 111 miles per hour or higher. This is due to a historically warm Atlantic Ocean and probable La Niña conditions. La Niña can contribute to combinations of climate conditions that fuel hurricanes.

Why name storms?

Storms are named for two primary reasons: for historical purposes, and to reduce confusion when communicating with the public. The World Meteorological Organization names hurricanes. The group maintains alphabetical lists and follows strict guidelines in the naming of storms. Per NOAA, for Atlantic hurricanes, there is a list of names for each of the six years. Thus, one list is repeated every sixth year.

Here’s more surprising things to know!

Governing.com explains, “There’s a 62 percent probability of a major hurricane making landfall along the U.S. coastline, which is higher than the 140-year average dating back to 1880.” To top it off, they share that there is also a 75 percent chance of a hurricane tracking withing 50 miles of Florida and 44 percent probability for a major hurricane.

But first, check out these facts:

  • Per Weather.gov, each year, approximately 10 tropical storms develop over the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, and Gulf of Mexico.
  • While many remain over the ocean, roughly six annually become hurricanes.
  • In an average 3-year period, roughly 5 hurricanes make landfall in the United States, mainly striking Florida and Texas the most.
  • Two of those storms are typically categorized as “major” hurricanes.
  • In the southern hemisphere, hurricanes rotate in a clockwise direction. In the northern hemisphere, they rotate anti-clockwise. This is called Coriolis Force and is related to the Earth’s rotation.
  • Hurricanes are complex and unpredictable. They are rated on the Saffir-Simpson scale which ranks them from Category 1 to 5 based on maximum sustained winds. A category 5 hurricane, the highest among the categories, has wind speeds which exceed 252 km/h or more!

Learn hurricane safety.

The CDC is a valuable source of information regarding Hurricane Safety and other natural hazards. They caution that while hurricanes affect people living along the coast, they can also cause substantial damage hundreds of miles inland. So, it is essential that all people – not just those living on the coast – learn wise ways to be prepared and stay safe during these massive storms.

This article is purely informational. For more hurricane facts, visit www.weather.gov.

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