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Frequently Asked Questions and Answers About Hurricanes

What’s an ‘eyewall’ and why do we care about its replacement cycle?

The fast thunderstorms in motion around the source of the hurricane are referred to as the eyewall. These surrounding winds are considered the most destructive. The eyewall is said to pass a “replacement cycle” before a storm is over. The strength of the hurricane lessens when it breaks up. The formation of the eyewall restores the initial strength or even exceeds it. These different strengths have different impacts which cause hurricanes to be classified into categories depending on their intensity.

What do the cones on hurricane forecast models mean?

The path followed by the hurricane eyes can be determined using the cones. The impact of the hurricane and the damages can be experience even in regions outside the cone. The size of the cone increases as the path followed by the hurricane becomes unclear. Solid colours are used by the National Weather Service in their forecast cone to represent the sections of their forecast that covers three days. The forecast after the three days is represented using dots.

What’s the Saffir-Simpson scale?

The Saffir-Simpson scale is the apparatus that is used to determine the intensity of the hurricane and give an estimation of the expected damage on the property. The scale rates the hurricanes on a scale of 1 to 5. The Saffir-Simpson scale calculation of the miles per hour covered by the wind in the various categories are not accurate gaps due to the fact that it is not scientific. The tool is not used for scientific measurements but rather to measure the intensity of the wind in order to give an estimation of the damage that is likely to occur on the property. The scale ranks the hurricanes based on the expected level of damage and the duration of time that will be taken before recovery.

Is it unusual to see this many hurricanes in the Atlantic at once?

In order for a hurricane to occur it requires two ingredients which are wind and hot water most preferably water that is above 80 degrees Fahrenheit. These two factors are the major catalysts that determine the intensity of a hurricane. It is possible for two hurricanes to occur at the same time what is uncommon is two very intense hurricanes appearing at the same time.

What’s the difference between a cyclone, hurricane, and typhoon?

There is no major difference between a cyclone and a typhoon. The difference is just in the semantics. Majority of the hurricanes are experienced in the Atlantic and the North America part of the Pacific. When the hurricane occurs on the Southern side of the Pacific it is referred to as a Cyclone while if it occurs on the Western part of the Pacific it is known as a Typhoon.

What is a tropical depression? What is a tropical storm?

The typhoon and cyclone are both tropical cyclones. Tropical depression is the term used to describe winds that have a speed of up to thirty eight metres per hour. A tropical storm on the other hand is the term used to describe winds that have a speed ranging between thirty nine and seventy three metres per hour. The two types of winds consist of a wind circulation that is closed and a center.

How are hurricanes ranked?

Hurricanes are ranked based on the speed of the wind of wind in metres per hour. In order for a tropical cyclone to be termed as a hurricane it must attain a wind speed of at least 74 mph. The categories are determined by the use of a Saffir-Simpson scale. Categories three, four and five are considered the major hurricanes ; they are the most severe and damaging hurricanes. The hurricanes in category 1 have a speed ranging between 74 to 95mph. the category 2 hurricanes have a speed that lies between 96 to110 mph. In category 3 the speed of the winds is estimated to be between 111 to 130 mph. the winds in category 4 have a speed of 131 to 155 mph. the winds ranked in category 5 have a speed of 156 mph and above.

What does an average hurricane season mean?

It is estimated that about 10.6 tropical storms occur as a result of a hurricane. When this occurs it is estimated that about six of these storms will develop into hurricanes while two of those six will turn out to be major hurricanes. The data used in making these estimations is derived from information gathered about storms from 1968 all the way to 2003. The period between 1st June and 30th November is often referred to as the Atlantic Hurricane season. Most hurricanes in the Atlantic occur during this period but there are some that occur at other times of the year.