What Happens When a Hurricane Hits Land?


Hurricanes can cause extensive structural damage and flooding to coastal communities when they reach land. As hurricanes move further inland, however, they lose speed and energy as their energy sources are depleted. The further a hurricane gets inland, the faster the storm dissipates.

A hurricane typically comes ashore with violently strong winds, heavy rainfall and a storm surge in coastal areas. Usually, as long as the eye of the hurricane remains over the warm water, the hurricane stays at near full strength. Once the eye moves ashore, the hurricane dissipates rapidly.

When the hurricane approaches land, the outer edges begin to incorporate the air over the land and transfer them inward toward the eye. This air is most often cooler and drier than the air fueling the hurricane. This creates strong areas of convergence that helps spawn weather phenomena such as thunderstorms and tornadoes.

Even as the hurricane grows weaker over land, the wind field tends to increase, spreading the hurricane’s effect over a much wider area. The outer areas of the hurricane may even see an increase in wind speed, while the average maximum wind speed decreases. The effect of a larger wind field along the coast can cause more storm surges and larger waves.