Atmosphere And Weather

How Super Storms Form

Philp Babitsky's image for:
"How Super Storms Form"
Image by: 

Super storms are large atmospheric instabilities that are often caused by a powerful cold front colliding with a high pressure system. During the process, large amounts of rain, hail, snow and lightning is discharged from the system. Powerful storms have winds that can match weaker cyclones, with snowstorms, blizzards and rains that wash away anything caught in their paths. The events usually occure during the transition between winter to summer and vise versa. Some storms have winds that reach above 250 km/h. This would be classified as a category five hurricane system. It is from this that the largest superstorm that occurred in 1979 in the pacific (typhoon tip), caused winds to reach distances of up to 1000 km away.

Systems are born, when warm and less dense air rises. Once temperatures at the surface reach around twenty seven degrees Celsius there is minuscule wind sheer on the surface of the ocean. This accelerates the warm air upwards and thus creating a low pressyre system below from the decreased amount of air. The surface warming is intense, and the fresh air also warms and begins to rise, carrying moisture with itself. This cyclic process accelerates. This causes eddies to appear from the rising and rushing of air.

Once the moisure reaches an altitude of about 15000 metres, the air and water droplets finally begin to condense. As this process continues, large cloud mass, together with huge amounts of water build up in the sky. Eventuall the clouds cannot hold the water any longer, and release it as heavy rains. The warming of the sun and the cyclce of rapidly rising warm air leads to vortex type storms. As winds begin to reach speeds in access of 70 km/h, the storm is classified as a tropical storm, while at around 140 km/h the system becomes a distinguished tropical cyclone. Eventually the latent heat feeds the rotating storm with energy and it grows to an enormous size. The biggest tropical cyclone ever was typhoon tip, that measures a diameter of over 2200 kilometres.

A super storm forms when there is enough heating of the ocean surface, latent heat. This causes cyclones to form in many parts of the world around the tropic. However, jet streams that are fast flowing, narrow currents, direct a few cyclonic systems to join at a height of up to 11000 metres, they drag the new systems through hot pockets on the ocean's surface, thus giving them more fuel. The combination of storms increases the atmospheric instability, and thus forcing the storm to grow much bigger and at a much faster rate. This is accompanied by hugely powerful winds, that reach speeds in access of 350 km/h at the eye of the storm.

Due to global warming it had been predicted by many scientists, such as Professor James McCarthy, that the increased surface temperature will fuel more cyclonic systems to develop. As the planet continues to warm, it has been predicted that mankind will witness enormous, potentially continent sized storms. That will dump catastrophically large amounts of rain, snow, ice and other dangerous debris.

The impact of super storms is severe. Cyclonic systems usually weaken when they arrive on land, as the earth cools relatively quickly, when compared to the ocean, thus weakening the cyclones. However, this takes many days, and while the systems weaken and disappear, they move far inland, leaving a catastrophic path of destruction. Some of the damage comes in the form of floods, wrecked infrastructure due to extremely high winds. Hurricane Katrina was the most expensive natural disaster in the history of the United States, as the storm left towns and an entire city in ruins. Unfortunately due to global warming these events will increase in frequency and strength.

More about this author: Philp Babitsky

From Around the Web