Every year, several hurricanes and tropical storms are formed over the open sea. The primary factors that lead to the inception of a hurricane are warm water and warm air mixing with heavy winds, but while there are many opportunities for storms to start, only a few actually do take off and become full blown hurricanes, such as Hurricane Katrina. Scientists and meteorologists have done many studies in the hopes of understanding causes of hurricanes, and they have determined there are a variety of circumstances that lead to the formation:
Waters that reach warm temperatures can be an igniting force for a hurricane. When the water reaches 80 degrees or more, it becomes warm enough to produce a tropical storm that can turn into a hurricane. For this reason, global warming is viewed by many scientists as a potential cause for an increased number of hurricanes each year. An overall rise in the temperature of the Earth's atmosphere will in turn create warmer waters, and therefore potentially lead to more storm formations.
Strong winds that blow towards the east can help stir up a tropical storm. When the winds mix with the water, they can create a spiraling cyclone or tropical storm front.
Hurricanes travel from the east to the west, so they are supported by eastern winds. When the winds become powerful enough, and mix with warm waters, they can become full blown hurricanes. Powerful winds fronts known as steering winds will also guide the movements and path of a hurricane.
The winds above the sea must develop into a rotating spiral in order for a hurricane to be formed. The winds will react to the Earth's gravitational pull, and will rotate in a counterclockwise direction in the northern hemisphere, and in a clockwise direction in the southern hemisphere. Without the rotating winds, a tropical storm will not be formed.
High pressure systems that develop over the ocean can lead to the rotation factor that is necessary to create a tropical storm. The rotating air will mix with the water, and then increase in temperature and force. Once these factors are in place, a hurricane can begin and start to grow.
Understanding the factors that cause hurricanes to form has allowed scientists and meteorologists to better predict when a storm will occur. With this knowledge it is possible to better comprehend how severe an upcoming storm may be, and what affect it may have on people living close to the area the storm may travel through.
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