Hurricane season is officially here. But, what exactly does that mean, and why? From this year’s names to why they happen, here is our Hurricane 101.
First thing is first, what is a hurricane?
Before a storm becomes a hurricane, it goes through several developmental stages. According to the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration, the stages are as follows:
A Tropical Cyclone: When a storm first begins to develop it is classified as a low-pressure weather system with organized thunderstorms, but no fronts.
A Tropical Depression: A tropical cyclone that has maximum sustained surface winds of less than 39mph advances to a tropical depression.
A Tropical Storm: The next stage occurs when the maximum sustained surface winds are or higher than 39mph, the system is then called a tropical storm.
Category 1 Hurricane: Once the storm’s winds reach 74mph it officially reaches hurricane status. When the maximum sustained winds are between 74-95 mph, it is a category 1 on the Saffir-Simpson Wind Scale.
Category 2 Hurricane: Winds between 96-110mph advance the storm to a category 2.
Category 3 Hurricane: A category 3 hurricane is the first of what are called ‘major’ hurricanes, this is due to their higher potential of causing significant loss of life and damage. A category 3 occurs when winds are between 111-129 mph.
Category 4 Hurricane: When the maximum sustained surface winds reach 130-156 mph, the hurricane reaches Category 4 status.
Category 5 Hurricane: The last rating possible, a category 5 appears when the winds reach 157 mph or higher. Catastrophic damage will occur.
How do Hurricanes Form?
A recipe for a hurricane includes four crucial ingredients:
- A pre-existing weather disturbance (a tropical wave or depression)
- Warm water (water at least 26.5 degrees celsius over a depth of 50 meters)
- Thunderstorm activity
- Low wind shear
The Three Major Parts of a Hurricane:
Eye: The eye is located at the center of the hurricane. It is the eerily calm part of the storm, as there are generally no clouds, low winds and very low air pressure. Don’t let this fool you, however, the most dangerous part of the storm is at the edge of the eye, called the eyewall.
Eyewall: This is the most dangerous part of the hurricane. This is where the strongest winds and heaviest rain are found. Winds at the eyewall can reach speeds of 155-200 mph.
Rainbands: Clouds that spiral out, making the storm larger are called rainbands. These bands hold large amounts of rain, which causes major flooding when the hurricane hits land.
Hurricane Season in Bermuda
Hurricanes form and develop in the Atlantic Basin, normally off the coast of Africa. The easterly trade winds carry the hurricane west, toward land. Bermuda is located outside the developmental stage of hurricanes but is in the path of a recurving storm. The Bermuda Weather Service’s studies show that Bermuda is normally hit by a major hurricane once every six to seven years. Since 1851, only nine landfalls and direct hits have occurred. The most popular time for storms in Bermuda is early September and late October. For the history of hurricanes in Bermuda, click here.
How to Prepare, What to Buy
For The Bermudian’s in-depth guide on how to prepare for a hurricane, click here.
The most important items that you should have in your house are:
- Non-perishable and ready-to-eat food items
- High energy foods (protein bars, nuts)
- Comfort food and drinks
- Pet food
- Prescription and non-prescription drugs (Advil, antacids, etc.)
- First-aid supplies
- Toilet paper
- Battery operated radio, flashlights and extra batteries
- Plastic bucket with a tight lid
- Garbage bags
- Lighter or matches
- Plastic sheeting, tarp
- Pen and paper
- Books, cards, and board games
Each year since 1953, the National Hurricane Center releases the names of the storms for each hurricane season. The list of names rotate every six years and is updated and maintained by the World Meteorological Association. The following are the names for 2020 (the ones crossed out have already been used this year):
For information regarding how to prepare for an impending storm, contact BF&M.
Read more from our Hurricane Season 2020 series, HERE!