Atmosphere And Weather

A Basic Guide to Tropical Storms



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With constantly changing climates and more frequent extreme weather conditions, Tropical Storms have claimed the lives of thousands in recent years. As well of the hefty loss of life, immense damage to property is also recorded every year. This has occurred most notably in the United States –where most hurricanes and cyclones hit every year. However, they all need the same essential ingredients to form.

Basically, Tropical Storms are areas of extreme low pressure. They can only form over areas of the sea that are capable of reaching 27ºC. This low pressure is created when the air above the warm sea is heated and rises, because it becomes less dense. This hot air rises and then condenses as it cools to form clouds.

How is the spiral formed?

Air just above the low pressure area is sucked in to fill the gap; this begins to spiral; due to the spinning movement of the earth. The centre of the tropical storm is known as the eye and is typically about 30-50km wide. Wind speeds around the eye reach on average about 160km per hour.

One recent example of a Tropical Storm was Hurricane Ike. This was the third most destructive hurricane to ever hit the United States of America. Like all hurricanes it started to form over water which was 27ºC, just off the coast of Africa on the 26th of August, 2008. Then, as the low pressure sucked in air to fill the gaps, clouds started to form around it and it became a tropical storm on the first of September just off the west of the Cape Verde Islands. All Hurricanes are given numbers which determine how powerful and potentially destructive they are. This number ranges from 1-6. Hurricane Ike scored a 5.6, which means it was one of the most destructive hurricanes ever recorded.

Despite the power of the tropical storm, the deaths were relatively low. Around one hundred ninety-five lives were claimed by the hurricane. Seventy-four of these were in Haiti, an area that is also prone to storms and natural disasters. One hundred twelve people were killed in the United States. It is also reported that thirty-four people are still missing, presumed dead.

As it is clear, these tropical storms are both powerful and deadly. They are also extremely expensive to the tax player. The damage caused from Hurricane Ike is estimated to be $24 billion, and in a country with an enormous deficit this can be a great hinder to development.

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