hurricane

hurricane

[hur-i-keyn, huhr- or, especially Brit., -kuhn]
hurricane, tropical cyclone in which winds attain speeds greater than 74 mi (119 km) per hr. Wind speeds gust over 200 mi (320 km) per hr in some hurricanes. The term is often restricted to those storms occurring over the N Atlantic Ocean; the identical phenomenon occurring over the W Pacific Ocean is called a typhoon; around Australia and over the Indian Ocean, a tropical cyclone. Hurricanes have a life span of 1 to 30 days. They weaken and are transformed into extratropical cyclones after prolonged contact with the colder ocean waters of the middle latitudes, and they rapidly decay after moving over land areas.

Formation of Hurricanes

A cyclone that eventually reaches hurricane intensity first passes through two intermediate stages known as tropical depression and tropical storm. Hurricanes start over the oceans as a collection of storms in the tropics. The deepening low-pressure center takes in moist air and thermal energy from the ocean surface, convection lifts the air, and high pressure higher in the atmosphere pushes it outward. Rotation of the wind currents tends to spin the clouds into a tight curl; as the winds reach gale force, the depression becomes a tropical storm. The mature hurricane is nearly circularly symmetrical, and its influence often extends over an area 500 mi (805 km) in diameter.

As a result of the extremely low central pressure (often around 28.35 in./960 millibars but sometimes considerably lower, with a record 25.69 in./870 millibars registered in a 1979 NW Pacific typhoon) surface air spirals inward cyclonically (counterclockwise in the Northern Hemisphere and clockwise in the Southern Hemisphere), converging on a circle of about 20 mi (30 km) diameter that surrounds the hurricane's "eye." The circumference of this circle defines the so-called eye wall, where the inward-spiraling, moisture-laden air is forced aloft, causing condensation and the concomitant release of latent heat; after reaching altitudes of tens of thousands of feet above the surface, this air is finally expelled toward the storm's periphery and eventually creates the spiral bands of clouds easily identifiable in satellite photographs.

The upward velocity of the air and subsequent condensation make the eye wall the region of heaviest precipitation and highest clouds. Because the outward increase in pressure is greatest there, the eye wall is also the region of maximum wind speed. By contrast, the hurricane eye is almost calm, experiences little or no precipitation, and is often exposed to a clear sky. Temperatures in the eye are 10°F; to 15°F; (5°C;-8°C;) warmer than those of the surrounding air as a result of sinking currents at the hurricane's core.

Movement and Occurrence of Hurricanes

Hurricanes and typhoons usually move westward at about 10 mph (16 kph) during their early stages and then curve poleward as they approach the western boundaries of the oceans at 20° to 30° lat., although more complex tracks are common. In the Northern Hemisphere, incipient hurricanes usually form over the tropical Atlantic Ocean and mature as they drift westward; hurricanes also form off the west coast of Mexico and move northeastward from that area. Between June and November, an average of six tropical storms per year mature into hurricanes along the east coast of North America, often over the Caribbean Sea or the Gulf of Mexico. Two of these storms will typically become major hurricanes (categories 3 to 5 on the Saffir-Simpson scale). One to three hurricanes typically approach the U.S. coast annually, some changing their direction from west to northeast as they develop; as many as six hurricanes have struck the United States in one year. Hurricanes and typhoons of the N Pacific usually develop sometime between May and December; typhoons and tropical cyclones of the Southern Hemisphere favor the period from December through April; Bay of Bengal and Arabian Sea tropical cyclones occur either between April and June or September and December, the times of the onset and retreat of the monsoon winds.

Damage Caused by Hurricanes

High winds are a primary cause of hurricane-inflicted loss of life and property damage. Another cause is the flooding resulting from the coastal storm surge of the ocean and the torrential rains, both of which accompany the storm. The Saffir-Simpson scale is the standard scale for rating the severity of a hurricane as measured by the damage it causes. It classifies hurricanes on a hierarchy from category 1 (minimal), through category 2 (moderate), category 3 (extensive), and category 4 (extreme), to category 5 (catastrophic). A supertyphoon is equivalent to a category 4 or 5 hurricane.

Only three category-5 storms have hit the United States since record-keeping began—the 1935 Labor Day hurricane, which devastated the Florida Keys, killing 600; Hurricane Camille in 1969, which ravaged the Mississippi coast, killing 256; and Andrew in 1992, which leveled much of Homestead, Fla. Hurricane Katrina in 2005 was a category-5 storm at peak intensity over the central Caribbean, Mitch in 1998 was a category-5 storm at its peak over the W Caribbean, and Gilbert in 1988 was a category-5 storm at its peak. Gilbert was the strongest Atlantic tropical cyclone of record until Wilma in 2005, which was at its peak while category-5 storm over the W Caribbean. The 1970 Bay of Bengal tropical cyclone killed some 300,000 persons, mainly by drowning, and devastated Chittagong (now in Bangladesh); some 130,000 died when a cyclone struck Myanmar along the Andaman Sea in 2008. The deadliest U.S. hurricane was the 1900 Galveston storm, which killed 8,000-12,000 people and destroyed the city. Hurricane Katrina (2005), one of the worst natural disasters in U.S. history, was economically the most destructive U.S. storm, devastating the SW Mississippi and SE Lousiana coasts, flooding New Orleans, killing some 1,200 people, and leaving hundreds of thousands homeless. Hugo (1989) in South Carolina and Opal (1995) and Charley, Ivan, and two others (2004) in Florida, and Rita (2005) in Louisiana and Texas also caused billions of dollars worth of damage. Weak hurricanes can still cause major flooding and damage, even when downgraded to a tropical storm, as did Hurricane Agnes (1972).

To decrease such damage several unsuccessful programs have studied ways to "defuse" hurricanes in their developing stages; more recent hurricane damage-mitigation steps have included better warning systems involving real-time satellite imagery. A hurricane watch is issued when there is a threat of hurricane conditions within 24-36 hours. A hurricane warning is issued when hurricane conditions (winds greater than 74 mph/119 kph or dangerously high water and rough seas) are expected in 24 hours or less.

Bibliography

See B. Tufty, One Thousand One Questions Answered about Hurricanes, Tornados, and Other Natural Air Disasters (1987); R. A. Pielke, The Hurricane (1990); J. Barnes, Florida's Hurricane History (1998); J. Barnes, North Carolina's Hurricane History (1998); D. Longshore, Encyclopedia of Hurricanes, Typhoons, and Cyclones (1998); E. Larson, Isaac's Storm (1999).

Cross section of a tropical cyclone. A cyclone derives its power from the warm air and water found elipsis

Severe atmospheric disturbance in tropical oceans. Tropical cyclones have very low atmospheric pressures in the calm, clear centre (the eye) of a circular structure of rain, cloud, and very high winds. In the Atlantic and Caribbean they are called hurricanes; in the Pacific they are known as typhoons. Because of the Earth's rotation, tropical cyclones rotate clockwise in the Southern Hemisphere and counterclockwise in the Northern. They may be 50–500 mi (80–800 km) in diameter, and sustained winds in excess of 100 mph (160 kph) are common. In the eye, however, the winds drop abruptly to light breezes or even complete calm. The lowest sea-level pressures on Earth occur in or near the eye.

Learn more about tropical cyclone with a free trial on Britannica.com.

Hurricane is a city in Washington County, Utah, United States. The population was 8,250 at the 2000 census. Hurricane has seen tremendous population growth along with many other areas of southwest Utah since the 1970s and has blended into neighboring St. George.

The town's name is traditionally pronounced "HUR ih kun", (the emphasis of the first syllable and the pronunciation of the last two syllables resemble the British pronunciation of the word "hurricane") by many of its residents. However, newer residents often pronounce it as the usual American pronunciation of the word ("hur ih KANE").

Hurricane received its name after a whirlwind blew the top off a buggy Erastus Snow was riding in. Snow exclaimed, "Well, that was a Hurricane. We'll name this Hurricane Hill.

Education

Hurricane is a part of the Washington County School District.

Hurricane has one high school, Hurricane High School (encompassing grades 10-12), attended by students from the surrounding communities of La Verkin, Toquerville, and Springdale, among others. The community supports a middle school, Hurricane Middle School (encompassing grades 8-9), an intermediate school Hurricane Intermediate School (encompassing grades 6-7), and two elementary schools, Hurricane Elementary School and Three Falls Elementary School. There is also a Hurricane-based center for nearby Dixie State College of Utah.

Geography

Hurricane is located at (37.174182, -113.326235).

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 31.5 square miles (81.7 km²), of which, 31.1 square miles (80.6 km²) of it is land and 0.4 square miles (1.1 km²) of it (1.39%) is water.

Demographics

As of the census of 2000, there were 8,250 people, 2,762 households, and 2,201 families residing in the city. The population density was 265.2 people per square mile (102.4/km²). There were 3,375 housing units at an average density of 108.5/sq mi (41.9/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 95.89% White, 0.16% African American, 0.96% Native American, 0.25% Asian, 0.29% Pacific Islander, 1.16% from other races, and 1.28% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.72% of the population.

There were 2,762 households out of which 38.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 70.0% were married couples living together, 7.1% had a female householder with no husband present, and 20.3% were non-families. 18.0% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.97 and the average family size was 3.38.

In the city the population was spread out with 32.8% under the age of 18, 9.5% from 18 to 24, 21.6% from 25 to 44, 19.2% from 45 to 64, and 16.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 32 years. For every 100 females there were 98.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 94.5 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $32,865, and the median income for a family was $36,955. Males had a median income of $30,172 versus $19,588 for females. The per capita income for the city was $13,353. About 10.8% of families and 13.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 19.2% of those under age 18 and 5.9% of those age 65 or over.

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