Lack of El Nino unleashes hurricanes


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This year alone three massive hurricanes hit the United States and left many without shelter and electricity. The first hurricane to hit was hurricane Harvey, hitting Houston Texas hard, and leaving at least eighty-two dead. Then Irma hit leaving at least another forty-two people dead in Florida, the Caribbean, Cuba, and many other islands south of Florida. Finally, hurricane Maria tore through Puerto Rico leaving one-hundred percent of the population without power. There have been nine hurricanes this year and five of them have been major hurricanes. One hurricane in particular, Hurricane Ophelia’s tail end made it as far as Ireland. On an average, there are only 5.9 hurricanes and only 2.5 of them become category three or worse.

A hurricane is classified when a tropical storm’s winds reach up to 74 miles per hour. “Hurricane Season” begins June 1 and ends November 30. Although scientists do not know exactly how a hurricane forms, they do know that two main elements are needed. The first is warm water. The water is what provides the energy for the hurricane. The water usually must be at least seventy-nine degrees Fahrenheit for a hurricane to occur. The next element needed for a hurricane is wind that does not change direction or speed. Winds that change direction or speed can shred storms apart.

Although hurricanes take specific conditions to form there have been many this year. When asked about why there are so many hurricanes Mr. Kevin Robison, WLWT-5 weatherman, said, “Hurricane frequency tends to fluctuate year to year based on atmospheric conditions. The frequency in number of storms hasn’t been significantly different, but the frequency in “major” hurricanes has been higher than usual. The reason for increased intensity in hurricanes this season has been the lack of wind shear over the Atlantic Ocean. Wind shear is what is needed to tear these storms apart and prevent them from growing. Wind shear has been low across the Caribbean and Atlantic this year due to their being no El Nino in the Pacific. Typically, an El Nino in the Pacific creates too much wind shear across the Atlantic for very intense storms to form and survive. We see here how what is happening in one ocean can affect the climate and weather patterns in another. It’s all related.”

Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Irma, and Hurricane Maria were hit hardest, but there have been several other hurricane occurrences this year. Those hurricanes are Jose, Katia, Lee, Nate, and Ophelia. The effects of Maria, Harvey, and Irma are still being felt throughout the Northern hemisphere. The United States, Puerto Rico, and Cuba experienced major impacts from these storms such as power outages and shortages of water. Hurricanes Jose and Katia hit the East Coast of the United States. While Hurricane Lee has not posed a huge threat to land, it has spun farther out into the Atlantic. Hurricane Maria hit Southeastern United states, and Hurricane Nate hit Mexico. Hurricane Ophelia did not hit any part of the United States, but traveled up toward Ireland. Meagan Gessner, eighth grader, has family in Florida and when asked about how she felt the hurricanes could impact her family she said, “I was very worried that I would never see them again. I distinctly remember wondering if their house would be left standing. I think it was just a fear of not knowing how everything was going to end up.”

Although hurricanes are usually rare natural disasters, there have been many this year. As a result of no El Nino in the Pacific and there has been no wind shear in the Atlantic. With hurricane season coming to a close, the United States and local islands can only hope there will not be another devastating hurricane this season.

 

 

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