Science Facts

What Causes A Hurricane To Form? – Effect & Survive


Hurricane is a natural phenomenon and disaster that brings torrential rain and flooding. They’re measured on their wind speed. When the winds in the middle of the storm reach an average of 74 miles an hour, it becomes a hurricane. It is a vast and intense storm. But where do these giant storms come from? A hurricane starts with the warm water found near the equator. It typically only form in tropical regions where the ocean is at least 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

The warm waters evaporate, creating warm moist air, which acts as fuel for the storm. The wind is also needed for a hurricane to form. Many hurricanes in the United States are caused by winds blowing across the Atlantic Ocean from Africa. Hurricanes usually formed within 5 to 15 degrees latitude north and south of the equator.

In every hurricane season, many of these ripples travel thousands of miles in the direction of the Atlantic. But only a few have ever become hurricanes. Not all hurricanes are born this way. Hurricanes formed from a cluster of thunderstorms suck up the warm moist air and move it high into Earth’s atmosphere. The warm air is then converted into energy that powers the Hurricane’s circular winds. These winds spin around a low-pressure center called the eye, which can provide a 20-30 mile radius of eerie calm encircling.

What is Hurricane?

Most people will know these tropical storms like hurricanes. However, in different parts of the world, they’re called other things. Hurricanes refer to tropical cyclones that occur in the Atlantic Ocean.

  • However, tropical storms that occur in the Indian Ocean are called cyclones.
  • If they occur in the Pacific Ocean and hit the coast of China, Japan, or Northern Australia, they are called typhoons.

All tropical storms can perform and tend to occur in the tropical regions of the world. They don’t exactly happen along the equator, but they happen a few degrees north in a few degrees south of the equator. By far, most tropical storms occur in the Pacific Ocean, and these form in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. They move westwards, coming to contact with are the islands of Japan, the Philippines, China, and places like that.

Structure: The structure of a hurricane and it’s separated into three different parts.

1. Eye: Firstly, the eye of the storm is that characteristic center of it. It is located right in the center of the whole storm front. It usually measures about 20 to 30 miles wide or 10 to 65 kilometers. Also, It is a part with low air pressure; generally, the wind is calm over here. And there are no clouds.

2. Eyewall: Heavy clouds surround the eyewall. It is the most terrible part of the hurricane, and the highest speed winds are found here. In the eyewall, there is the highest sustained wind speed. They have to exceed 130 kilometers an hour if the canoe is known as a hurricane. It’s primarily a cloud-free area because the air is sinking, and it is probably the calms part of the storm.

Generally speaking, the eye of the storm shrinks the stronger the storm becomes. The highest wind speeds are found around the eyewall. The section and is directly around the eye of the storm. Wind speed here can reach more than 320 kilometers an hour. It is where the real wind damage of the storm occurs.

3. Rain bands: These tend to curve around in a spiral fashion. They’re capable of producing heavy bursts of rain and wind. And they can extend outwards from the eye of the storm. Sometimes as much as five hundred and fifty kilometers.

What causes a hurricane to form?

Hurricanes or tropical cyclones form over oceans in the autumn when the seas have been warmed by the summer Sun. When wind moves over the warm ocean towards an area of low-pressure water begins to evaporate and rise into the atmosphere. As it grows, the water vapor condenses to form clouds. Condensing releases the heat that has been stored in the water vapor, which warms the air around it.

The warm air rises and creates a column of clouds with an area of low pressure beneath it. Way up there, the water vapor condenses back into liquid water droplets. Water droplets in the atmosphere form clouds, including big stormy cumulonimbus clouds. As the warm air continues rising upward, the winds begin blowing in a circular pattern around a center. The spiraling winds gather up a cluster of big thunderstorm clouds.

Surrounding air rushes in to fill this pocket of low pressure. Creating a cycle of winds and a cluster of thunder clouds called a tropical disturbance. When the wind speed reaches 39 miles per hour, the system is classified as a tropical storm. And it is given a name to help meteorologists identify it. If the storm encounters a particularly warm patch of ocean, that can be enough to turbocharge the system to become a hurricane.

Once the spinning winds reach 74 miles per hour, the storm has officially become a hurricane. They can be 10 miles high and over 1,000 miles across. Once a hurricane hits land, it runs out of warm moist air, and its winds weaken. But the storm can still cause lots of damage to communities near the coast.

The winds twist around the eye of the storm. It is known as the Coriolis effect. And it is caused by the force of the Earth’s spin. It can only happen between five and fifteen degrees latitude on either side of the equator. A vertical wall of intense rainstorms surrounds the eye called the eyewall. The winds around the eyewall are strong enough to blow a house away. As a hurricane approaches land, the disturbances in the water caused the sea level to rise. When it reaches land, this becomes a storm surge. A body of water that floods the coastline can travel many miles inland.

Scientific explanation: The heat from the ocean is the energy source of the hurricane. The high levels of moisture in the atmosphere will be storm clouds to expand. Winds are also rotating about a central point, and the tropical depression is born. After few days of drifting, winds in the center are now circling a gale force. The rain clouds have expanded the area is powerful enough to be called a tropical storm. The tropical storm is heading for a region of the ocean where the sea is hot.

At 12 hours later, the energy released from the ocean has powered up the winds to a critical speed. It’s now a hurricane! From space, it resembles a whirlpool of clouds and in its middle is the eye. It’s a relatively small circle of calm weather, typically 30 miles wide. This clearer eye is then surrounded by a ring of fused towering rainstorms known as the eyewall. It’s the most dangerous part. Under the eye, the wall blows the fastest winds. Within the eyewall, currents of warm air violently fanning outwards at the top.

Hurricanes formation diagram
Hurricanes formation diagram

Hurricanes formation step by step: There is two major step for hurricane formation which are given below:

Step 1 – Tropical storm formation

How do tropical storms form? It requires quite a warm water temperature, generally above 27 degrees. As this heat and moisture rise due to the convection currents, it forms large clusters of thunderstorms. These thunderstorms may then begin to rotate due to the Coriolis force of our planet. And the resulting organized masses of thunder clouds moved in a circular motion depending on the hemisphere that they’re moved in different directions. Air is deflected to the right in the northern hemisphere and to the left in the southern hemisphere.

The swirling clouds and rain clouds become more organized as they circulate the center of this storm. They’re known as tropical storms when wind speeds are less than 38 miles per hour, approximately 61 kilometers an hour. It is classified as a tropical depression. However, once the wind speed gains and reaches a 39 mile an hour limit, this is a tropical storm. It’s given a name to identify it, and various organizations worldwide begin to track it because it could potentially turn into a hurricane.

Step 2 – Tropical storms to hurricanes formation

The tropical storms gain energy from the sea. The rising water vapor fuels it, and they pull in all of this energy from the warm ocean sea surface temperatures. The energy of these storms can constantly increase. But it’s not until they reach 74 miles an hour or approximately 119 kilometers an hour that they are officially classified as a hurricane.

Hurricanes durability: These hurricanes can last more than two weeks. As they move across the open waters, they can gain additional energy depending on the sea surface temperature. However, when they begin to cross land or contact land, they rapidly lose their energy source and begin to lose energy. The wind speeds gradually reduce until eventually, they peter out, and they no longer have this hurricane force-time them. They then revert to small tropical storms and will eventually dissipate over land.

What are the effect of hurricane?

Most of the damage may come from the flooding and not necessarily the wind. Once a hurricane reaches land, it can travel hundreds of miles, causing huge damage. But without the warm ocean to fuel it, it will eventually dissipate. Wind scale is used to grade the intensity of a hurricane. Let’s look at the effect of the hurricane by category.

  • Category 1- Winds are clocked between 74 and 95 miles per hour and may result in some damage.
  • Category 2- The storm has winds at 96 to 110 miles per hour, and the damage can be expected to be extensive.
  • Category 3- Hurricanes are extremely dangerous and with wind measured from 112 to 129 miles per hour. The damage will be devastating.
  • Category 4- Hurricane with winds reaching 156 miles per hour. The damage will be unbelievable.
  • Category 5- The damage is catastrophic, with winds exceeding 157 miles per hour.

On September 20th, 2017, a category five hurricane struck the island of Puerto Rico. The damage and loss of life have been devastating. All 3.4 million residents were plunged into a deep crisis. This hurricane was named Maria, and it affected many of the islands of the Caribbean.

Destruction is caused by the high winds and the tremendous amount of water that brings massive and widespread flooding. The most dangerous component when hurricanes come near land is storm surge. Storm surge is caused when winds from an approaching hurricane push water towards the shoreline up to 20 feet above sea level and extend 100 miles. 90% of all hurricane deaths are the result of storm surge.

While hurricanes can cause mass devastation just like other natural disasters. They serve a higher purpose within the global ecosystem. Hurricanes help regulate our climate by moving heat energy from the equator to the poles keeping the earth’s temperature stable. Over time science has helped us to understand hurricanes better and predict their paths.

What to do during a hurricane to stay safe?

As hurricanes develop over the ocean, they can often be predicted one and even two days before landfall. The insurance bureau of Canada has some advice on how to keep your family safe. When a hurricane is near, you need to stay safe.

  • Turn on the radio and wait for updates.
  • If your home and the heavy wind blows, get away from the windows. Watch out for flooding and protect yourself.
  • You may be without power for a couple of days, but your emergency kit should help you stay.
  • Once the storm is gone and it’s safe to go home, be cautious of what’s going on.
  • If water is in your path, you have to turn back.
  • Dangerous electricity and things you can’t see can hurt you very badly. So before the waves swell, the wind blows, and rain starts to pour, get prepared, make a plan and protect yourself every way.
  • Stay informed radio, television, and the internet are abuzz with warnings and advisories. If you live near water, check marine forecasts before boating and listening to weather reports while on the water.
  • On the coast, be aware that the storm surge from a hurricane can cause severe flooding. If possible, move inland and to higher ground.
  • Unplug all your domestic appliances and switch off the power supply at the mains.

Start packing the 10 essential items.

  • Bottled water 2 liters per person per day, non-perishable food such as canned goods or freeze-dried food, a hand-cranked can opener.
  • A first-aid kit, flashlight, and spare batteries.
  • A portable radio, either a wind-up or battery-powered model, and remember extra batteries.
  • Some cash and contact information for friends and family, as well as a copy of your emergency plan.

Make photocopies of important documents such as your insurance policy, passports, birth certificates, and other paperwork, including the contact information for including your insurance representative’s contact information, your insurance representative. It is also a brilliant idea to make a home inventory list and maybe photos too.

Weather satellites are constantly monitoring the conditions down here on Earth. The GOES-R series of weather satellites scan the hemisphere every 10 minutes and the U.S. every 5 minutes keeping an eye on situations that might cause a hurricane to form. Once a hurricane forms, the satellites can help predict the storm’s intensity and track it minute by minute. This information allows meteorologists to deliver early warnings and help people stay safe.

Global climate models, which study how the atmosphere behaves over hundreds of miles, cannot show much about hurricanes. But as technology improves, so will our ability to represent hurricanes accurately with models.


“Glossary of NHC Terms.” United States National Hurricane Center.
“Tropical cyclone facts: What is a tropical cyclone?”. United Kingdom Met Office.
Global Guide to Tropical Cyclone Forecasting. World Meteorological Organization.
“Tropical cyclone facts: How do tropical cyclones form?”. United Kingdom Met Office

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