Hurricanes consist of high-speed winds blowing circularly around a low-pressure center, known as the eye of the storm. Hurricanes are rated from one to five. One, being the smallest, has winds of at least 74 m.p.h. A level 5 could have winds over 155 m.p.h. Within the eye of the storm, which is about 15 miles around, the winds stop and clouds lift. Hurricanes normally move in a U-shaped path. From the edge of the storm towards its center, the atmospheric pressure drops sharply and the wind velocity rises. The winds are at their maximum as the force closes to the point of lowest pressure.
Improved systems of tracking hurricanes can help predict a hurricanes arrival and send out the information on its location and wind speed. Hurricanes do not occur in the South Pacific Ocean.
Hurricanes are known as tropical storms because of their most common locations, near the Equator, the Caribbean Sea, and the Gulf of Mexico. The most powerful hurricane recorded was Hurricane Gilbert which had winds up to 218 m.p.h., devastating Jamaica and parts of Mexico.
The most recent large scale hurricane was, Hurricane Andrew, which hit southern Florida and moved west toward Louisiana. This hurricane had wind gusts that were estimated around 175 m.p.h. This hurricane was the most expensive natural disaster ever, costing over 20 billion dollars.
About the Authors
Sarah Vegter, Matt Woodard and Nichole Sullivan are students in Mr. Abouaf's first period Integrated Science II class at West Torrance High School.