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HURRICANES. The Atmosphere's Largest Event. Presented by: Catherine Charnawskas & Margaret Milligan July 31, 2004 SCE 6103. Storm Types. Tropical Storm Tropical cyclone with 39 to 74 mph winds Forms over a tropical ocean Center of the storm is warmer than surrounding air

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The Atmosphere's Largest Event

Presented by:

Catherine Charnawskas &

Margaret Milligan

July 31, 2004

SCE 6103

storm types
Storm Types

Tropical Storm

Tropical cyclone with 39 to 74 mph winds

Forms over a tropical ocean

Center of the storm is warmer than surrounding air

Strongest winds near Earth’s surface

Has no fronts

200 to 500 miles wide

Extratropical Storm

Dominant weather systems of continents

Forms outside the tropics

Center of the storm is cooler than the surrounding air

The strongest winds are in the upper atmosphere

Has fronts – warm and cold

700 to 1000 miles wide

what is a hurricane
What is a Hurricane?

A hurricane is a tropical cyclone with winds greater than 74 mph.

The typical hurricane width is 300 miles across.

3% of a hurricane’s energy

is transferred into wind and


  • How to make a hurricane
  • One part warm ocean water
    • Above 80° F & 200 ft deep
  • One part warm and humid air
  • One part weak upper level winds
  • Lots of energy!

Typhoons and Indian Ocean Cyclones

are related to hurricanes.

Hurricanes can easily last more than

a week. Atlantic hurricanes can

devastate Caribbean islands several

days before hitting the United

States mainland.

how a hurricane develops
How a hurricane develops

Hurricane season in the Atlantic ranges from June to November with

the peak in September.

  • A tropical depression forms over warm ocean water. This will
  • eventually develop into a tropical storm.
  • Humid air rises.
  • When water vapor in rising air condenses into water droplets it
  • releases heat. This is called latent heat.
  • Latent heat warms surround air making it lighter.
  • The lighter air rises.
  • As warm air rises, more air flows in to replace it. This causes
  • wind.
  • 7. On the advancing side of the storm, smaller thunderstorms,
  • tornadoes, and other inclement weather is generated.
  • 8. The eye of the hurricane is calm with wind speeds at nearly zero
  • mph. The pressure in the eye is far below normal sea level
  • pressure. Looking up through the eye of the hurricane an
  • observer will see cloudless skies.
anatomy of a hurricane
Anatomy of a Hurricane

Day Twelve: The hurricane continues to weaken after hitting land

often called extratropical at this stage.

where can i find a hurricane
Where can I find a Hurricane?

Each year about 100 tropical storm form in the world. 66%

develop into hurricanes (Atlantic/East Pacific), typhoons (West Pacific),

or cyclones (Indian Ocean).

30% Western North

Pacific Ocean

12% South Pacific


7% North and West


15% East Pacific Ocean

12% North Indian Ocean

12% Western Atlantic Ocean

12% South Indian Ocean

naming hurricanes
Naming Hurricanes

Names are different for each region.

Names are both male and female.

Names are alphabetical and alternate between male and female.

Experience shows that the use of short, distinctive given names in

written as well as spoken communication is quicker and less subject

to error than the older more cumbersome latitude-longitude

identification methods. These advantages are especially important in

exchanging detailed storm information between hundreds of widely

scattered stations, coastal bases, and ships at sea.

saffir simpson scale
Saffir-Simpson Scale


Hurricane forecasters consider New Orleans America’s most dangerous for storm surge, since a storm could drive 20ft of water into the city.

Hurricane Watch – threat within 24-36 hours

Hurricane Warning – threat within 24 hours or less

hurricanes devastating

The low pressure and high winds associated with hurricanes create huge mounds of water called STORM SURGES which cause 90% of all hurricane deaths.

Hurricane winds have been recorded at speeds up to 200 mph.

Beyond the direct damage by such winds, wind-driven waves on top of the storm surge compound the flooding problem by battering and eroding the coastal landscape and structures.

Two devastating factors of a hurricane:

Storm surge – a huge mound of water created by the low pressure and

strong winds of a hurricane. They are found especially in

shallow coastal waters. They can increase the water level

as much as 20 feet!

Wind damage – damage caused by high winds as well as waves driven by

high winds.

hurricane mitch
Hurricane Mitch
  • Facts about Mitch
  • Oct 22 – Nov 9, 1998
  • Category 5
  • Lowest pressure: 905mb
  • Highest winds: 180mph
  • Rainfall: between 300
  • and 1800mm.
  • 1200 mm recorded in one
  • day in Honduras. This is
  • the yearly average for
  • New England!

Strongest hurricane since the

Great Hurricane of 1780!

hurricane mitch11
Hurricane Mitch
  • Facts about Mitch
  • Death toll of about 11,000
  • Thousands missing
  • 3 million homeless
  • $5 billion in damages
  • Starvation, Malaria, and
  • Cholera were widespread
  • Crop loss estimated at $900
  • million
  • Estimated that it will take 15
  • to 20 years to rebuild parts of
  • Honduras.
text references
Text References

Demillo, Rob. How Weather Works Ziff-Davis Press, Emeryville, California 1994, 121-129

Williams, Jack. The Weather Book 1st Edition 1992 Vintage Books, New York, New York, 131-151

American Meteorological Society Project Atmosphere “Hazardous Weather Teacher’s Guide” 1992 pg 21-24

Allaby, Michael. How the Weather Works Reader’s Digest, Pleasantville, New York. 1995. 84-87

internet sources resources
Internet Sources/Resources
  • – The Weather Channel
  • – WeatherBug. A downloadable program that gives you current weather for your area. Great way for students to collect weather data over time.
  • - Great site for hurricane information and activities (and other areas of science too!)
  • - National Weather Service
  • – Weather Underground, another great site for collecting weather data around the United States and world.