YOUR WEEKLY DOSE OF WOWZERS AND WONDER FROM THE NATURAL WORLD
Hello and welcome to the latest edition of Wowzerful!
With less than a month to go in the Atlantic hurricane season, the formation of Subtropical Storm Theta over the Atlantic Ocean made the 2020 hurricane season the most active on record.
In light of this fact, we figured it was the perfect time to learn more about these powerful storms.
Hold on tight, we’re about to enter the spin cycle!
With their destructive winds and torrential rains, hurricanes are a true force of nature.
When it comes to natural disasters, hurricanes are the real deal. These massive storms form over warm waters near the equator and move toward land causing flash floods, mudslides and catastrophic damage to communities and natural habitats.
So how exactly do these super storms form?
It takes three key ingredients to bake a hurricane pie.
First, they require warm water — 26.6º C (80º F) or above to be exact.
The warmer the water, the more violent the storm.
Second, they need warm, moist air surrounding a low pressure system.
When the colder air from the low pressure system rises, warm air rushes in to fill the void, bringing clouds along with it.
And finally, they need low wind shear, which we admit seems a little ironic.
Too much wind and the clouds will blow away before the spin cycle kicks in.
It’s important to note that having all three ingredients doesn’t guarantee a hurricane will form. Sometimes these ingredients will produce a tropical storm, or just a thunderstorm.
If and when a hurricane does develop, however, they can become truly massive.
The cloud formations can reach heights of over 15 km (50,000 ft), and grow to a diameter of over 2,000 km (1,243 mi) wide.
That’s equal to 21,860 football fields!
And we haven’t even mentioned wind speeds yet.
To be classified as a hurricane, these tropical storms must have sustained winds of at least 119 km/h (74 mph).
That’s pretty fast, but it’s nothing compared to the 346 km/h (215 mph) winds a category 5 hurricane can have!
Winds at that speed can flatten houses, tear down trees and power lines, and leave areas uninhabitable for weeks or months.
It’s safe to say that hurricanes can be pretty scary and are not to be taken lightly.
The science behind how they form and the energy they can produce however, is fascinating.
And all it takes is 3 simple ingredients!
Every second, a large hurricane releases the energy of 10 atomic bombs.
In the Pacific Ocean, hurricanes are known as typhoons. In the Indian Ocean they are called tropical cyclones.
The red spot on Jupiter is actually a hurricane which has been raging for over 300 years. This spot is larger than the Earth!
The average hurricane can carry over 100 billion pounds of water!
The eye of a hurricane can be up to 32 km (19.8 mi) wide. This hollow area of the storm is oddly calm with relatively no winds.
1979 Typhoon Tip was the largest hurricane ever recorded. It had a wind diameter of 2,220 km (1,380 mi), and reached peak sustained winds of 305 km/h (190 mph).
Ever wonder why hurricanes spin in different directions in the north and south hemispheres?