Hurricanes

Storm Surge and Freshwater Flooding

I’m McKensie Daugherty, your host for On the Ocean. The word Hurricane inspires fear and awe in all of us, but no one more than those who live near coasts. Fewer people, however, associate this fear with freshwater flooding and what is known as Storm Surge. Storm surge is ocean water that is being pushed towards the shore by the force of the winds that surround the storm. Storm surge itself is incredibly dangerous, but becomes even more so when it combines with the normal tide to create hurricane storm tide. This combination raises the water level to heights that can destroy roads, homes, and critical infrastructures at the coasts. Alongside storm surge is the problem of freshwater flooding. As hurricanes make landfall, they unleash large amounts of rain, causing flooding that can happen very rapidly, and give little time for evacuation. It can become life-threatening very quickly, making it a part of what makes hurricanes so dangerous. This flooding can also extend far past the initial landfall of the hurricane, in fact heavy rainfall from traveling hurricanes contributes to flooding that can reach across several states. The force of the winds and waves, as well as the flooding and storm surge accompanying these storms, are the backbone of what makes them so lethal to life on land. Other life-threatening results of hurricanes are tornados, floods, flying debris, and landslides; which are all caused by the high winds and massive amounts of rain at rapid velocities. Therefore, the very best action for hurricanes is to get out of their destructive path. Check forecasting by weather professionals such as the National Hurricane Center, and be prepared to leave as soon as it’s recommended. To create the best action plan for you and your family, visit Ready.gov for the most up to date recommendations for before, during, and after these deadly storms. This has been On the Ocean, a program made possible by the Department of Oceanography and a production of KAMU-FM on the campus of Texas A&M University in College Station. For more information and links, please go to ocean.tamu.edu and click On the Ocean.

More Information and Links:

Contributing Professor: Dr. Courtney Schumacher

http://atmo.tamu.edu/people/faculty/schumachercourtney.html

ResearcherID

Links:

Information/Preparing for Hurricanes:

Ready.gov-Hurricanes

National Hurricane Center

http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/prepare/

REALLY cool satellite images:

http://www.goes.noaa.gov/

http://weather.msfc.nasa.gov/GOES/

Hurricanes -2 How to brew a Hurricane

I’m McKensie Daugherty, your host for On the Ocean. Last week we discussed storm surge and freshwater flooding from hurricanes and why they are so dangerous to human populations. But what is a hurricane actually? Hurricanes are defined as intense tropical cyclones that spiral and can produce wind speeds of at least 74 miles per hour and up to 160 miles per hour. So what does it take to create such a monstrous storm? To start, you need warm moist air from ocean waters, at least 80 degrees Fahrenheit or 26.5 degrees Celsius at the ocean surface, which are most common near the equator. This warm air rises from the surface of the ocean, leaving lower air pressure below it. As more air from the areas nearby pushes into this area of low pressure, it too becomes warm and moist, causing it to rise. As the warm air rises, it cools. This creates the condensation for cloud formation, and then thunderstorm creation. These systems rotate and grow as they feed off the warm ocean waters. As the system rotates faster and faster, it forms what’s known as the eye of the storm, an area with very low air pressure at the center of the system. The eye of the storm is often 20 to 30 miles wide (but can vary), and is what is known as the calm part of the storm. However, areas just outside the eye of the storm are known to have the strongest winds and rains of the hurricane. Because of the rotation of the Earth on its axis, storms forming north of the equator rotate counterclockwise, as the storms south of the equator spin clockwise. The path the storm takes is dependent on seasonal weather patterns, strong winds, water currents, and water/surface temperature of the ocean where it forms. This has been On the Ocean, a program made possible by the Department of Oceanography and a production of KAMU-FM on the campus of Texas A&M University in College Station. For more information and links, please go to ocean.tamu.edu and click On the Ocean.

More Information and Links:

Contributing Professor: Dr. Courtney Schumacher

http://atmo.tamu.edu/people/faculty/schumachercourtney.html

ResearcherID

Links:

Information/Preparing for Hurricanes:

Ready.gov-Hurricanes

National Hurricane Center

http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/prepare/

REALLY cool satellite images:

http://www.goes.noaa.gov/

http://weather.msfc.nasa.gov/GOES/

Hurricanes -3 What’s in a name?

 

I’m McKensie Daugherty, your host for On the Ocean. This week we will take a look at the names and classifications of hurricanes, and what they mean to the people in their paths. To begin, hurricanes are a type of tropical cyclone. In fact, it depends on where the storms are formed as to what they are called locally. The word hurricane is for the Atlantic ocean, the Caribbean sea, and the central and northeast Pacific ocean. Typhoons are formed in the northwest Pacific, and in the South Pacific and Indian oceans, they are called cyclones. No matter the term they all mean the same thing: a very dangerous tropical cyclone. But what, in fact, is the degree of danger for each hurricane? This is where the Saffir-Simpson scale is used. Each hurricane is identified as one of 5 categories, with each category representing a degree of wind speed. Category one is windspeed of above 74 miles an hour and is classified as very dangerous winds, with the threat of power outages for days. Category 2 is above 96 miles per hour winds and is classified as extremely dangerous winds, with power outages for possibly many days. Category 3 is classified as above 111 mile an hour winds and devastating damage that can cause power outages for up to several weeks. Category 4 is classified as winds above 130 miles an hour and listed as catastrophic damage occurring, including power outages expected for many weeks. Finally, category 5 is listed as above 157 mile an hour winds, with catastrophic damage including power losses for weeks to months, and can cause the area to be uninhabitable. However, even a category 1 hurricane is meant for evacuation, as all categories have the potential to be deadly. Storms are named if they reach tropical storm strength, and go in alphabetical order. The names are chosen from one of 6 existing lists, with one list being used each year. This has been On the Ocean, a program made possible by the Department of Oceanography and a production of KAMU-FM on the campus of Texas A&M University in College Station. For more information and links, please go to ocean.tamu.edu and click On the Ocean.

 

More Information and Links:

Contributing Professor: Dr. Courtney Schumacher

http://atmo.tamu.edu/people/faculty/schumachercourtney.html

ResearcherID

Links:

Information/Preparing for Hurricanes:

Ready.gov-Hurricanes

National Hurricane Center

http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/prepare/

REALLY cool satellite images:

http://www.goes.noaa.gov/

http://weather.msfc.nasa.gov/GOES/

Hurricanes -4 How to study a Hurricane?

I’m McKensie Daugherty, your host for On the Ocean. Hurricanes are incredibly destructive, and need warm ocean temperatures to form. In the wake of a warming world due to global climate change, researchers are determined to better understand hurricanes now and in the future. To do this, scientists use satellites to track and study conditions of the ocean and the climate surrounding it. For example, the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites are a set of weather satellites that generate images of the earth every 30 minutes using Visible, Infrared, or Water Vapor images to track weather conditions around the world. By using these satellites, scientists are able to study what conditions can create and affect hurricanes, and use this data for tracking and forecasting of these gigantic storms. NASA also has research aircrafts (manned and unmanned) that are flown into and above the hurricanes to gather data such as wind speed and rain. In fact, a group known as the “Hurricane Hunters” made up of National Oceanographic Atmospheric Administration, United States Navy, Air Force, Air Force Reserve, and units fly into these storms to gather information satellites cannot provide, such as barometric pressures and more accurate wind speed measurements. All data of this nature are necessary to get the most reliable forecast for hurricane development and movement. Another avenue of research is using computers to model hurricanes, a process that constructs predictions on storm paths and intensities to help the public prepare for these storms in a time-sensitive matter. Models use a lot of data, including collections from satellites, buoys, tide gauges, aircrafts, and Doppler radar. By working together with ocean observing teams from universities and government centers, scientists can help improve the storm preparation and evacuation process, which helps save lives. This has been On the Ocean, a program made possible by the Department of Oceanography and a production of KAMU-FM on the campus of Texas A&M University in College Station. For more information and links, please go to ocean.tamu.edu and click On the Ocean.

More Information and Links:

Contributing Professor: Dr. Courtney Schumacher

http://atmo.tamu.edu/people/faculty/schumachercourtney.html

ResearcherID

Links:

Information/Preparing for Hurricanes:

Ready.gov-Hurricanes

National Hurricane Center

http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/prepare/