Tornadoes and Hurricanes
By: Dakota Callender and Niles Emmert
What is a tsunami and where do they normally occur?
What atmospheric conditions favor the development of hurricanes?
The two essential ingredients in every hurricane are warm water and moist warm air. That’s why hurricanes begin in the tropics. Hurricanes start when warm, moist air from the ocean surface begins to rise rapidly, where it encounters cooler air that causes the warm water vapor to condense and to form storm clouds and drops of rain. The condensation also releases latent heat, which warms the cool air above, causing it to rise and make way for more warm humid air from the ocean below. Converging winds near the surface of the water collide, pushing more water vapor upward, increasing the circulation of warm air, and accelerating the speed of the wind. At the same time, strong winds blowing steadily at higher altitudes pull the rising warm air away from the storm’s center and send it swirling into the hurricane’s classic cyclone pattern.
What is the classification system used for hurricanes?
The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale has gone through multiple changes over the course of time. The central pressure of a hurricane was utilized during the 1970s and 1980s before the use of Hurricane Hunter aircraft became commonplace in the 1990s. Meteorologists were able to estimate wind speeds in a hurricane or tropical storm based on central pressure. Storm surge estimates were also listed on the scale beginning in 1972. The traditional Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale is a 5-step scale used as a hurricane classification system in the Atlantic and eastern North and Central Pacific basins. The scale includes calculations and estimates for wind speed, storm surge ranges, and flooding references. In general, possible damages rise by a factor of four for every category increase from 1 to 5. Maximum sustained surface wind speeds are the determining factor in the scale.