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Chapter 12.docx

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University of Calgary
GOPH 375

Chapter 12 Hurricanes  Hurricanes = tropical cyclones = typhoons. Convert heat energy of ocean into winds and waves  Hurricanes push surges (large mass of sea water) onshore and raise sea level  Long lasting: about an hour or two; bigger, slower, longer than tornadoes  Hurricanes need: o Warm water – greater than 27 degrees C threshold. They are a heat engine extracting energy from warm (ocean) waters. Water must be greater than 60m thick o No or little wind shear (winds travelling different directions/velocities) o Air over the water must be warm, humid and unstable (usually around equator)  Running off latent heat of condensation o Coriolis Effect must occur to spin the system - Air spirals upwind – cyclones, typhoons o Upper-level winds should be weak and preferably blowing in the same direction the storm is moving  Hurricanes are unique: o Latent heat released by condensation inside a hurricane is its main energy source o Hurricanes weaken rapidly when they move onto land o Fronts are not associated with hurricanes o Weaker high-altitude winds = stronger hurricanes o Hurricane centers are warmer than their surroundings o Hurricane winds weaken with height o Air in the center of the eye sinks downward  Hurricane development: o Tropical disturbance - low pressure zones that draw in a cluster of thunderstorms with weak winds o Tropical depression – surface winds strengthen and flow around a center. Converging surface winds send warm/moist air upwards to stratosphere where it condenses and releases latent heat. This warms surrounding air, and strengthens updrafts o Tropical storm – surface wind speed exceeds 63 km/hr o Hurricane – surface wind speed exceeds 119 km/hr  Figure 12.12 – troposphere; northern hemisphere counterclockwise rotation by virtue of the Coriolis Effect. Air spirals upwards; convection is powered solely by the latent heat of condensation  Hurricanes don’t form on the actual equator (because it’s Coriolis Effect is zero), and do not cross the equator. Form near the equator. Commonly off the Pacific Coast of Mexico, rarely off of Brazil  Wind speeds: 320km/hr is fastest, tornadoes are faster.  Diameter is approx 1000km, core where it’s fastest is >200km.  Depending which side of the storm you’re on will determine how much damage occurs. On the side where wind speed goes in the same direction as the storm motion, damage will be greater than opposite side where wind speed goes in opposite direction from the storm motion o Damage is asymmetrical in storms o In the northern hemisphere, right side will experience speed of the storm body plus winds (wind comes from ocean), on the left you will feel the wind speed minus storm motion (wind comes from land)  Eye: calm area 30-60 km in the middle of the hurricane, no winds can reach this center when wind speeds exceed 119 km/hr. Cool air sinks, leaving eye clear/cloud free. Eye walls contain fastest winds  Energy released by a hurricane by forming clouds and rain is 400x greater than the energy of its winds  Saffir-simpson scale measure categories of hurricanes  Post tropical transition: when some hurricanes unexpectedly gain strength by moving to higher latitudes and hit cooler/stronger air streams. Hurricane structure deforms and becomes less compact  Surge: when the sea comes ashore. Drowning causes most hurricane fatalities. Sea level rises because water build-up beneath the eye because it’s a low pressure zone, and winds on the side of the storm where winds are additive push sea swells ashore.  Fatalities caused by: o Majority is wind o Hydrostatic response to pressure  Water coming ashore is more deadly than wind  Figure 12.22/12.27  North Atlantic Ocean experiences 4-28 hurricanes a year. Late summer is greatest risk because the water retains the most energy from the whole summer (Aug-Oct)  Hurricane seasons: early hurricanes stay in the Caribbean, or enter the Gulf of Mexico. Later in the season hurricanes are less likely in the gulf, more likely around the eastern coast of the US.  Hurricane status usually revoked by the time storms hit Canada. Luis is a notable exception cat 3 1995 N
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