Hurricane Sandy has devastated areas of New York, New Jersey and the US East Coast this week in what is being dubbed the worst storm in the region’s history. So as the mass clear up gets underway we thought we’d look into just how these natural disasters occur in this week’s FACTS…
FACT 1: For hurricanes to form the ocean waters must first be warm enough at the surface to add heat and moisture into the overlying atmosphere. Then atmospheric moisture from sea water evaporation has to combine with the heat to form a powerful ‘engine’ that will propel the hurricane. Then lastly a wind pattern has to be near the ocean surface to spiral the air inward. When these factors all combine thunderstorm bands form allowing the air to heat further and rise higher into the atmosphere, if the winds at higher levels are light the storm structure remains intact and can increase in strength until it becomes a hurricane.
FACT 2: The majority of hurricanes die at sea when they pass over areas of cooler water.
FACT 3: The hurricane scale categorises the storms into five categories. Category one hurricanes have with wind speeds of a minimum of 74mph and minimal structural damage is expected to occur. Category five hurricanes however exceed wind speeds of 155mph and catastrophic structural damage is expected.
FACT 4: While traditionally being named after women hurricanes also started taking male names in 1979.
The word hurricane comes from the Taino Native American word, hurucane, which means ‘evil spirit of the wind’.
FACT 6: In the Pacific Ocean hurricanes are generally known as typhoons whereas in the Indian Ocean they are called tropical cyclones.
FACT 7: The heaviest rains and winds occur in the eye of the hurricane which is the ring of clouds and thunderstorms closely surrounding the centre.
FACT 8: Slower moving hurricanes produce more rainfall and cause more flood damage inland than the faster moving more powerful hurricanes.
FACT 9: A large hurricane can release the energy of 10 atomic bombs every second.
FACT 10: On the planet Jupiter there is a hurricane that has been going on for over 300 years. It can be seen from Earth as a red spot on the planet and the hurricane there is bigger than the Earth itself.
Hurricane Sandy in pictures
UK Greatest Storm Facts