Hurricane Prep Week 2023: How Hurricanes Form

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16 May 2023 11:00 AM

How Hurricanes Form:

What does a tropical system need to form? There are 3 main ingredients. Warm water, ample moisture and low wind shear. 

Tropical systems need warm water to form.  Sea surface temperatures of at least 79 degrees Fahrenheit are needed for development. Typically, these warm waters are found between the equator and the tropic of cancer.

Tropical storms or hurricanes need a continuous up-flow of warm and wet air to create clouds and rain. One factor that can limit the available moisture is dust. Saharan dust that comes off of Africa can dry out a storm causing it to weaken. 

The last ingredient is low wind shear. Shear refers to the change in wind speed or direction with height. As a storm develops vertically, a low wind shear environments allows the storm to stay intact  and  strengthen. With high shear, the system becomes tilted and weakens. Under these conditions… a system can intensify and live on…potentially becoming a major destructive hurricane.

What is Saharan Dust & How Does it Impact the Tropics?

Are Larger Hurricanes Stronger?

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