We have seen them on the news and we have seen them in movies so many times… hurricanes. Even though they are misfortune in a very bad disguise, they are still marvelous wonders. I had to know how? And Why?… How they happen and why the girls names? So I went into a little dive in the world web to find my Rosetta Stone and stumbled upon some amazing facts which left me in ‘Oh’.
Before I dig into the more scientific details (which are magnificent) I’d like to share a fun fact first, the reason why they have names. It was all because of one certain meteorologist called Clement Wragge, this Australian scientist is credited for giving women names for storms, and not any names, he gives the names of the women he hated. He made a list, organized them alphabetically and then gave names for each hurricane in order (you got to admire the efforts he made to make sure the names of the women he hated will always be associated with a natural disaster). The idea never really caught on (hmmm, I wonder why?). But it was revived in the 1940s by the American Weather Bureau.
Pop quiz… have you ever heard about hurricanes hitting… let’s say, Alaska or the South Pole?
As close to reality Hollywood can be, the answer is no. That’s because hurricanes develop in warm, tropical regions. Most Atlantic hurricanes begin off the west coast of Africa, starting as thunderstorms that move out over the warm, tropical ocean waters.
Now is the time for the magician to reveal the secret, how it was possible to happen. Storms begin their lives as clusters of clouds and thunderstorms called tropical disturbances. Most of these disturbances die out, but a few, well they keep going further. In these cases, the thunderstorms in the disturbance release latent heat from the accumulated pressure, which warms areas in the disturbance. This causes the air density inside the disturbance to lower, dropping the surface pressure. Wind speeds increase as cooler air rushes underneath the rising warm air. The incoming winds bring in more moisture, which condenses to form more cloud activity and releases latent heat in the process.
There’s one last thing, the big one, Why they spin?
Well, let’s say you have a plane and you know how to fly and you decided to go from north to south, not only it will be a cool thing to do, but if you draw your line of movement on a map, you’ll find it curved, it sounds unbelievable if it wasn’t for one fact, our planet rotates. This is called the Coriolis force, a natural phenomenon that causes fluids and free-moving objects to veer to the right of their destination in the Northern Hemisphere and to the left in the Southern Hemisphere. They say that within five degrees of the equator; the Coriolis force is too weak there to help form hurricanes. I’ll try to remember to go there in case one of Clement’s ex’s wanted to drop her fury on us.
My thoughts and prayers to everyone who suffered hurricane sandy’s wrath.
Source: How Stuff Works