Rumours of a Hurricane

September 3, 2010

We have been following Andy Murray in the US Open tennis in New York, and the news is full of warnings that Hurricane Earl is headeing towards New York.

Hurricanes are large storms, which rotate anti-clockwise around a central ‘eye’. They usually form off the coast of Africa, sweep across the Atlantic ocean towards the Americas and then turn North and East. Some don’t keep going and become less harmful Tropical Storms or Tropical Depressions, some fizzle out in the sea, but sometimes they strike land and the heavy rain and strong winds cause destruction and loss of life, such as Hurricane Katrina which devestated New Orleans in 2005. Once the hurricane is over land, it starts to loose strength and dies out.

Atlantic Hurricane season map for 2006

Atlantic Hurricane season map for 2006

This map shows the paths of Hurricanes during the 2006 “season”, which normally lasts from the end of June until October. Each hurricane is given a name, starting at A and going through the alphabet. In 2006, the hurricanes were named with alternating boy and girl’s names:
Alberto, Beryl, Chris, Debby, Ernesto, Florence, Gordon, Helene, Isaac, Joyce, Kirk, Leslie, Michael, Nadine, Oscar, Patty, Rafael, Sandy, Tony, Valerie, William.

The list is reused every six years, so this list will be reused in 2012. If there are any particularly devestating hurricanes, the name is ‘retired’, for example, Katrina will not be used again. In 2006, only the first nine names (upto Isaac) were used, and the record is 28 hurricanes in a year (2005), when they ran out of names.

From the map, you can see some of them travel across the Atlantic towards Britain, by which time, they have lost their powerful strength as they travel over cooler sea, although Britain can get heavy rain and gale force winds from the tail of the hurricane. For example in 2006, remnants of Hurricane Gordon gave a burst of wet and windy weather.

During the season, people in the path of hurricanes need to know if one if coming, and as well as watching weather forecasts, The National Hurricane Center, www.nhc.noaa.gov is one place where hurricanes can be tracked with the latest information, or @hurricanes on twitter

Hurricane map for 3rd September 2010

Hurricane map for 3rd September 2010

Hurricane safety advice for children is available at:
www.edu4hazards.org/hurricane.html

More information is available at:

Wikipedia on Hurricanes:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hurricane

BBC Weather guide:
www.bbc.co.uk/weather/features/understanding/hurricane_cycle.shtml

A hurricane website for children, including games and activities
www.fema.gov/kids/hurr.htm

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