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Tropical Storms

Tropical Storms - An Introduction
What are Tropical Storms?
How are tropical storms named?
How do Tropical Storms occur?
What is the structure of a Tropical Storm?
How can we reduce the impact?
Case Studies

Tropical Storms - An Introduction

A Tropical Storms are also known as Hurricanes (Atlantic), Tropical Cyclones (South East Asia), Willy Willies (Australia) and Typhoons (Pacific).

What are Tropical Storms?

Tropical Storms are areas of extreme low pressure. This means air is rising, causing 'low pressure' on the earth's surface. The maximum sustained surface wind speed (using the U.S. 1-minute average) ranges from 34 knots (39 mph or 63 kph) to 63 knots (73 mph or 118 kph).

How are Tropical Storms named?

All tropical stroms are given names so they can be identified and tracked as they move over oceans. In 1979, both women and men's names were used. One name for each letter of the alphabet is selected, except for Q, U and Z. For Atlantic Ocean hurricanes, the names may be French, Spanish or English, since these are the major languages bordering the Atlantic Ocean where the storm occur.

The World Meteorological Organization uses six lists in rotation. If the tropical storm is particularly deadly or costly the name is retired and a new one is chosen.

The Six-Year List of Hurricane Names For Atlantic Storms:

1996
Arthur
Bertha
Cesar
Dolly
Edouard
Fran
Gustav
Hortense
Isidore
Josephine
Kyle
Lili
Marco
Nanav
Omar
Paloma
Rene
Sally
Teddy
Vicky
Wilfred

1997
Ana
Bill
Claudette
Danny
Erika
Fabian
Grace
Henri
Isabel
Juan
Kate
Larry
Mindy
Nicholas
Odette
Peter
Rose
Sam
Teresa
Victor
Wanda

1998
Alex
Bonnie
Charley
Danielle
Earl
Frances
Georges
Hermine
Ivan
Jeanne
Karl
Lisa
Mitch
Nicole
Otto
Paula
Richard
Shary
Tomas
Virginie
Walter
1999
Arlene
Bret
Cindy
Dennis
Emily
Floyd
Gert
Harvey
Irene
Jose
Katrina
Lenny
Maria
Nate
Ophelia
Philippe
Rita
Stan
Tammy
Vince
Wilma

2000
Alberto
Beryl
Chris
Debby
Ernesto
Florence
Gordon
Helene
Isaac
Joyce
Keith
Leslie
Michael
Nadine
Oscar
Patty
Rafael
Sandy
Tony
Valerie
William

2001
Allison
Barry
Chantal
Dean
Erin
Felix
Gabrielle
Humberto
Iris
Jerry
Karen
Lorenzo
Michelle
Noel
Olga
Pablo
Rebekah
Sebastien
Tanya
Van
Wendy

You can find out the names of past, present and future Eastern North Pacific tropical storms here.

How do Tropical Storms occur?

Tropical Storms start within 8 and 15 north and south of the equator where surface sea temperatures reach 27C. The air above the warm sea is heated and rises. This causes low pressure.
As the air rises it cools then condenses, forming clouds. Air around the weather system rushes in to fill the gap caused by the rising air. The air begins to spiral. This is caused by the spinning movement of the earth.
The weather system generates heat which powers the storm, causing wind speeds to increase. This causes the Tropical Storm to sustain itself. Tropical storms rely on plenty of warm, moist air from the sea - this is why they die out over land.

 

What is the structure of a Tropical Storm?

[Explorezone - Hurricanes]

The central part of the tropical storm is known as the eye. The eye is usually between 30-50km across. It is an area of calm, with light winds and no rain. It contains descending air. Large cumulonimbus clouds surround the eye. These are caused by moist air condensing as it rises. Wind speeds average 160km per hour around the eye.

How can we reduce the impact?

Click here to find out how to prepare for a tropical storm.

 

Case Studies

Below is a list of Tropical Storms, each with a link to a site containing information about it:

1. Hurricane Andrew - 1992 Americas costliest hurricane

2. Hurricane Mitch - 1998

3. Indian 'Super Cyclone' The strongest and deadliest cyclone in the region since the Bangladesh cyclone of April 1991

4. Cyclone Eline - 2000 The cause of the major disaster in Mozambique


GeoNet is not responsible for the content of any of these sites

 

[GCSE Bitesize - Tropical Storms]

Hurricane Track
An excellent overview of the cause and effects of hurricanes

Hurricane Names
Find out how hurricanes are named here

Hurricanes

An overview of Hurricanes

American Red Cross - Guide to Hurricanes

National Hurricane Center

WeatherEye - The Greatest Storm on Earth

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