Atlantic Hurricane Season

by Ava Lamberth

How do hurricanes form in the Atlantic?

First, a low pressure system moves in over warm water. (A low pressure system is where there is not a lot of pressure in a certain area. All storms have low pressure systems somewhere around them.) The water warms up the air above it, and the water evaporates, causing clouds and warm air to rise and spiral. This is the Coriolis effect, which occurs because of the earth's rotation. When this air cools, it condenses and forms clouds. Meanwhile, more air rushes in to fill the area where the warm air was, and then it too becomes warm and rises. The clouds that were formed suddenly grow bigger, using warm air and evaporated water as fuel. Because this premature hurricane will be in the North Atlantic, it will spin counterclockwise. As it grows, a small eye will appear in the center of the typhoon. When wind speeds go above 73 mph, this storm is now officially a catagory one hurricane. Many hurricanes differ in wind speeds and damage rates, and can be put into different categories. However, once the hurricane begins to go over land, it will lose its fuel and gradually become smaller until it is just a tropical storm.

What is the Bermuda High?

The Bermuda High is an area of high pressure that sits over the Atlantic. This high pressure system acts as a "steering mechanism" that guides the hurricanes to where it will eventually end up. However, the direction of the hurricane depends on the size and location of this system. A normal Bermuda High often steers to hurricanes up and to the east. During 2004 and 2005, the Bermuda High moved to the southwest, which steered many hurricanes into the Gulf of Mexico instead of the east coast. Also, the Bermuda High can affect the intensity and size of the hurricane.

What is El Nino?

El Nino is a climate cycle in the Pacific Ocean which can affect weather on all parts of the globe. When an El Nino occurs, the waters around it become warmer, and warm air begins to blow across the Northern Hemisphere. If a hurricane is forming in the Atlantic at the same time, the winds caused by El Nino can shear off the top of the hurricane, which can weaken the hurricane or put an end to it altogether.

How do water temperatures affect hurricanes?

Warm water temperatures are essential for the forming of a hurricane, as it does help warm the air and evaporate. The water vapor then forms clouds, which spirals and grows into a hurricane. As long as there is warm water feeding into the hurricane, it will thrive and grow. When the hurricane begins to travel over cold water or land, it will diminish into just a small storm.