The KIDZ ZONE - Hurricane 101 - - Columbia, South Carolina

The KIDZ ZONE - Hurricane 101

You're friendly Neighborhood Live 5 Weather Team.  Chad Watson, Brad Miller, Scott Williamsand Chief Meteorologist Bill Walsh bring you the best and most reliable forecasts everyday. 

The Live 5 Storm Center is equipped with the latest and most powerful technology to give you the most reliable weather information in the Lowcountry. 

Live Super Doppler 5000 is the most accurate radar technology to protect you and your family 24 hours a day.  Live Super Doppler 5000 can track a hurricane from hundreds of miles away and pinpoint severe weather all the way down to your neighborhood. 

The Live 5 StormTracker is the Lowcountry's only live mobile weather lab.  It can track storms as they happen and where they happen for the most accurate severe weather information.

Live 5 WeatherBug is a network of over 20 weather stations scattered around the Lowcountry.  WeatherBug is also connected to a national network to show you live pictures, wind speeds and directions when a hurricane approaches anywhere in the United States.

  What is a hurricane?

A hurricane is a large storm.  It can be up to 600 miles across and have strong winds spiraling around it 74 to 200 mph. Hurricanes can last for a few days or sometimes as long as two weeks.  They move across the ocean averaging 10-20 miles per hour.  Hurricanes strengthen by gathering heat and energy through contact with warm ocean waters.  They rotate in a counter-clockwise direction around an "eye." The center of the storm or "eye" is the calmest part. Within the eye, the weather is fair with calm winds. When hurricanes make "landfall" the damage caused by the wind and waves is destructive.

How do hurricanes form?

Hurricanes only form over really warm ocean water of 80°F or warmer. The atmosphere (the air) cools very quickly the higher you go. Also, the wind at the ocean surface must be blowing in the same direction and at the same speed to force air upward.  Winds flow outward above the hurricane which allows the air below it to rise. Hurricanes typically form between 5 to 15 degrees latitude north and south of the equator.

What is storm surge?

Storm surges are frequently the most devastating element of a hurricane. As a hurricane's winds spiral around the storm, the water piles up, and is unable to escape anywhere but on land as the storm approaches. A hurricane will cause more storm surge in areas where the ocean floor slopes gradually. This causes major flooding.  Storm surge can be as small as a few feet to upwards of 25-30 feet.

When does hurricane season start?

The Atlantic hurricane season is from June 1st to November 30th, but most hurricanes occur from late summer into early fall.

Who names hurricanes?

From 1950 to 1952, tropical cyclones of the North Atlantic Ocean were identified by the phonetic alphabet (Able-Baker-Charlie-etc.), but in 1953 the US Weather Bureau switched to women's names. The rest of the world eventually caught on, and naming rights now go by the World Meteorological Organization, which uses different sets of names depending on the part of the world the storm is in. In the U.S., only women's names were used until 1979, when it was decided that they should alternate a list that included men's names too.  If a hurricane causes significant damage, its name is retired and replaced with another beginning with the same letter.

What is the difference between a hurricane and a typhoon?

Nothing except geography. Tropical storms occur in several of the world's oceans, and except for their names, they are essentially the same type of storm. In the Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Mexico, and the Eastern Pacific Ocean, they are called hurricanes. In the Western Pacific Ocean, they are called typhoons. In the Indian Ocean, the Bay of Bengal, and Australia, these types of storms are called cyclones.

Who are the "Hurricane Hunters"?

The "hurricane hunters" work for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Each mission lasts about ten hours, with the crews passing four to six times through the storm. The planes carry radar, sophisticated computers, and weather instruments that determine characteristics such as temperature, air pressure, wind speed, and wind direction inside the hurricane. The crews also release instruments that measure temperature, air pressure, and wind at different levels of the atmosphere as the devices drop through the hurricane toward the ocean.

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