What is with
all the Hurricanes?
I’m not going to lie. Hurricane Harvey frightened me, so much so, I ran around the house collecting my prized artwork (that I made) from the walls and putting it somewhere a bit safer for my liking. Our roof stayed on, and our house did not flood, and our neighborhood faired exceptionally well. There were a ton of fence and tree damage, but the houses came out with minimal damage. My eldest son helped us take the hanging basket plants into the garage from the porch, with the wind and rain warning us to finish preparing everything outside, and only began getting frightened when I told him the storm is coming; that is when he gasped and ran inside. My youngest had no idea what was going on, and only became terrified when our power went out, loudly, at 2:00 a.m., and he had no night-light to sooth his slumber. Of course, this happened while I was in the bathroom, so I had to, very blindly, navigate through all of the porcelain, marble and wood, then down a dark hallway to pick-up a terrified, screaming baby boy in a pitch-black, boarded-up, room then proceed to take him out to the only light on the protected, screened-in-porch to sooth him until a flashlight found us. This boy may have been in fear, but he’s tough, with a bully-of-a-big-brother (who is beginning to be nicer to his baby brother), being birthed in a car at a Texaco, and celebrating his very first birthday during Hurricane Harvey, two days after the storm initially hit us, I’d say this kid has many more exciting birthdays to come. Now, what is with these strong hurricanes?
First, let us look at what a hurricane actually is. The National Ocean Service tell us that, “a hurricane is a type of storm called a tropical cyclone, which forms over tropical or subtropical waters [typically the Atlantic basin, which includes the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, and the Gulf of Mexico, and less typically in the Central North Pacific], and when a storm’s maximum sustained winds reach 74 mph, it is called a hurricane,” (NOAA). Okay, so, for hurricanes to form there have to be conditions. To be begin with, let us look at the, ‘where’ factor. Since hurricanes tend to form more often in the Atlantic Ocean basin, east of the United States, and west of Europe and Africa, there is definitely something about those waters that differ from the Pacific Ocean Waters. The National Ocean Service called those waters “tropical,” which makes them warmer waters, and that warm water reaches deep into the dark ocean. Now, that is one major ingredient for forming hurricanes. What are the next two?
I found my answer in an article from PBS.org, while they explain water temperature, they also explain the other two major ingredients hurricanes need to form, and those are, wind shear and moist air. When the wind shear is low, and blowing in the opposite direction as the hurricane winds, the hurricane cannot survive. PBS describes the occurrence with a spinning top analogy. The hurricane is the top spinning in one direction, while the wind shear is like a gust from a fan blowing on the top in another direction at the tip of the spinning top. The opposing winds cause the top to spin off its axel and tilt, eventually falling over, thus defacing the top. That is what happen to the hurricanes that do not survive. However, when the winds are symmetrical, or blowing in the same direction, that gives the hurricane more energy, strengthening it, and creating a threat to anything and anybody it its way, but there is still one more ingredient hurricanes need to form, moist air.
Humidity. Anyone who has ever lived in Texas or has visited Texas, knows what humidity is and understands how it makes summers feel hotter and winters feel colder. We understand hair frizz, sweating, and heat exhaustion. Hurricanes use humid or moist are to fuel their intensification levels. The longer a hurricane sits in the Atlantic Ocean basin, with all that ready-to-use humidity, the stronger the storm becomes. Hurricanes and weather centers classify a hurricane’s intensity with categories, one through five, placing the storm in said category by how fast their wind speed really is. Meteorologist have given specific ranges for each of the categories of hurricanes. The Saffir – Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale is used. The winds range from category one at 74 – 95 miles per hour, or 64 – 84 kilotons, to category five at 157 miles per hour or higher or 137 kilotons or higher, with all sorts of ranges of destruction that takes place from minimal damage to total destruction.
We are blessed and lucky to have the outcome we did with Hurricane Harvey striking us as a category four hurricane, with winds at 130 – 156 miles per hour. Others did not fare as well. Houston flooded and Rockport was a total loss, but Victoria varied home to home and sign to sign. Our beloved Texas Zoo was hurt badly too, and is in desperate need of financial support to rebuild. Rebuild. Life by life. Day by day. Hour by hour. Prayer by prayer. #VictoriaStrong and #TexasStrong. We take care of one another, in any way we can, because we are Texas, and we are strong, strong enough to accept help and to give it in return.