Hypothetical Hurricanes Wiki

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Hypothetical Hurricanes Wiki
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Hurricane Isabel (2003) as seen from orbit during Expedition 7 of the International Space Station. The eye, eyewall, and surrounding rainbands, characteristics of tropical cyclones, are clearly visible in this view from space.

A tropical cyclone is a rapidly rotating storm system characterized by a low-pressure center, strong winds, and a spiral arrangement of thunderstorms that produce heavy rain. Depending on its location and strength, a tropical cyclone is referred to by names such as hurricane (/ˈhʌrɨkən/ or /ˈhʌrɨkeɪn/), typhoon /taɪˈfuːn/, tropical storm, cyclonic storm, tropical depression, and simply cyclone.

Tropical cyclones typically form over large bodies of relatively warm water. They derive their energy through the evaporation of water from the ocean surface, which ultimately recondenses into clouds and rain when moist air rises and cools to saturation. This energy source differs from that of mid-latitude cyclonic storms, such as nor'easters and European windstorms, which are fueled primarily by horizontal temperature contrasts. The strong rotating winds of a tropical cyclone are a result of the conservation of angular momentum imparted by the Earth's rotation as air flows inwards toward the axis of rotation. As a result, they rarely form within 5° of the equator. Tropical cyclones are typically between 100 and 2,000 km (62 and 1,243 mi) in diameter.

Hurricane Florence near peak intensity on September 11.

Tropical refers to the geographical origin of these systems, which form almost exclusively over tropical seas. Cyclone refers to their cyclonic nature, with wind blowing counterclockwise in the Northern Hemisphere and clockwise in the Southern Hemisphere. The opposite direction of circulation is due to the Coriolis effect.

In addition to strong winds and rain, tropical cyclones are capable of generating high waves, damaging storm surge, and tornadoes. They typically weaken rapidly over land where they are cut off from their primary energy source. For this reason, coastal regions are particularly vulnerable to damage from a tropical cyclone as compared to inland regions. Heavy rains, however, can cause significant flooding inland, and storm surges can produce extensive coastal flooding up to 40 kilometres (25 mi) from the coastline. Though their effects on human populations are often devastating, tropical cyclones can relieve drought conditions. They also carry heat energy away from the tropics and transport it toward temperate latitudes, which may play an important role in modulating regional and global climate.


A tropical cyclone forms in tropical water, usually in late summer. For a tropical cyclone to form, there has to be a warm body of water and light winds.

Stage 1: Thunderstorms

Thunderstorm clusters. If they move closer together and create a low pressure center, a tropical cyclone could form.

When tropical water is warm and undisturbed, it starts to evaporate and produce thunderstorm clouds that rise around 5 miles (8 km) high. These clouds produce rain and heat, which warms the low altitude air and causes it to rise, increasing pressure at higher altitude and reducing pressure at low altitude.

Stage 2: Tropical depression

The low pressure area in the center of the thunderstorms draws in tropical air as surface winds, which become stronger and start to rotate. This causes the thunderstorm clouds to merge and be pulled into a spiral form. The high pressure at higher altitude pushes the thunderstorm clouds outward.

Stage 3: Tropical storm

When winds exceed 38 mph (61 km/h), the system achieves tropical storm status. The system produces torrential rain that worsens closer to the eye and continues to draw in tropical air as surface winds, which continue to get stronger.

Stage 4: Hurricane, typhoon, or tropical cyclone

When winds exceed 74 mph (120 km/h), the system is officially a hurricane, typhoon, or tropical cyclone. The system continues to get stronger until it makes landfall or moves into cooler waters.


When a tropical cyclone makes landfall or moves into cooler waters, it will dissipate. The cyclone will weaken, the system will become a rain cloud, and the pressure will normalize. This happens because the tropical cyclone no longer has tropical water to feed on. However, as long as there is still a low pressure center, the system can still re-strengthen if it goes into tropical water again.

As the system dissipates, it is called different things.

An extratropical cyclone is a tropical cyclone that is away from the tropical region. The farther the system gets from the tropical region, the faster it will dissipate. Extratropical cyclones can still have very strong, or even destructive winds.

A remnant low is a tropical cyclone that degraded into rainfall, but still has a low pressure center. It usually has light winds, and doesn't really rotate anymore. However, the system can still re-strengthen if it goes back to tropical water. If the system is just remnants, it means that the cyclone has degraded into rainfall, and the pressure at the center has normalized. The system can no longer re-strengthen, because there is no more low pressure center.