How a hurricane forms

Published: Updated:
MGN Online

FORT MYERS, Fla. – A hurricane is a rapidly rotating storm system characterized by a low-pressure center, strong wind, and a spiral arrangement of thunderstorms that produce heavy rain and storm surge.

Something unique about a hurricane is that instead of cold air existing in the center of the system, a hurricane has warm air within it’s center, often referred to as a “warm core.”

There are three main ingredients in the recipe of hurricane formation. The first is very warm water with a temperature of 80 degrees or higher. The second ingredient is a thick layer of moisture extending from sea surface to roughly 20,000 feet. The final ingredient needed for hurricane formation is wind. The wind needs to be light, or low wind shear which allows the hurricane to grow vertically.

When we mix together these elements, warm water, moist air and light upper wind, an area of low pressure is able to form, strengthen and develop into a hurricane.

A hurricane first begins as a tropical depression with wind of 38 mph or less. If it becomes more organized and the wind reaches 39 mph or above, the system is deemed a tropical storm and receives a name. If wind speed increases to 74 mph the tropical storm becomes a hurricane.

To measure the strength of the hurricane we use a scale of intensity called the Saffir-Simpson scale. The scale is numbered one to five with category five being the most powerful with wind of 157 mph or greater.

Hurricanes bring not only the force of wind, but storm surge, freshwater flooding and tornadoes, so keep it tuned to WINK News for any developments throughout the hurricane season.

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