How Do Hurricanes Form? I Oxford Open Learning


    How Do Hurricanes Form?

    And What Are The 6 Global Hurricane Seasons?

    When European explorers travelled to the Caribbean centuries ago they experienced especially violent storms that battered their ships. They would later learn that the local people referred to these storms as hurakan and that for them they signified evil spirits and weather gods.

    Three Names

    Move forward a few hundred years and a hurakan, now named Hurricane, is only one of three names given to these giant, spiralling tropical storms, that usually have wind speeds of over 74 mph. When they form over the North Atlantic, Central North Pacific, and Eastern North Pacific, they are called Hurricanes, and while the brunt of them usually strike America, their weaker remnants often also hit the UK. However, when such a storm forms over the South Pacific or the Indian Ocean it is referred to as Cyclone, and if it develops in the Northwest Pacific it will be called a  Typhoon.

    The official Hurricane seasons, followed by their season peak dates are shown below.

    1. North Atlantic – June 1 to November 30 (peaks late August to October)
    2. Central North Pacific June 1 to November 30 (peaks late August to October)
    3. Eastern North Pacific – May 15 to November 30 (peaks in July to September)
    4. North West Pacific – N/A as tropical cyclones form throughout the year (peaks late August to early September)
    5. Indian Ocean – April 1 to December 31 (peaks May and November)
    6. South Pacific – November 1 to April 30 (peaks late February/early March)

    Hurricanes originate in warm ocean waters with a surface temperature of over 26.5 degrees. While this temperature is great for swimming, the energy from this warm water also feeds low-pressure weather systems, which are the precursor to storms and eventually hurricanes. The hurricane draws the heat from the warm, moist ocean air and releases it via the condensation of water vapour in thunderstorms. Hurricanes spin around a low-pressure centre known as the eye of the storm which is about 20 to 40 miles wide and is strangely calm. However, it is the wall of this circular eye that contains the strongest winds and most rain.

    Hurricanes And Storm Surges

    To be honest, if the storm stayed out at sea, the average person wouldn’t know much about it. But, when a Hurricane makes landfall it can often create a huge storm surge, sending seawater flooding inland with great force. In recent times, probably the most  infamous of these surges came in the wake of 2005’s Hurricane Katrina, which hit New Orleans and the surrounding coast. Storm surges can create waves that are 20 feet high, and they can move several miles inland to devastating effect. The high winds associated with hurricanes, destructive in themselves, can also create tornadoes to compound the problem.

    Thankfully, modern meteorological systems enable hurricanes to be forecast in good time so that people can evacuate to safety until the storm has passed. Such precautions are now more important than ever, as due to climate change creating warmer waters, hurricanes will only become more frequent and more violent.


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    I am a practising HR consultant working with several start-ups on an ongoing and ad-hoc basis in the London and M4 area, and am a Chartered Member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development or CIPD. I am the Director of; is a resource for start-ups and small business. It includes a blog containing career advice, small business advice articles, HR software reviews, and contains great resources such as HR Productivity Apps.