I don’t like storms. I don’t find it remotely cosy to be stuck indoors when gale force winds are blowing a hoolie outside. Give me sunshine any day. I especially don’t like a storm that comes with a warning, and that’s exactly what I’ve had this year.
Now it’s not unexpected, I’m living in the tropics and it is hurricane season.
Picture from: (www.simpsoncrazy.com/pictures/homer)
Even though I might not like the effect it’s still awe inspiring seeing nature in action. So, without further ado, I’d like to introduce Chantal:
Picture from: http://barbados.org
(I am on the tiny speck of blue, labeled Grantley Adams International)
Now, I’m no expert but she looks like one big momma with some serious booty! But before we judge, let’s find out a little more about it.
Chantal was not a hurricane; she was a Tropical Storm. So what’s the difference?
Basically a tropical storm is like an immature hurricane. Tropical storms have wind speeds between 39 mph and 74 mph. Any faster and it turns into a hurricane.
There’s a hierarchy.
It starts as a tropical disturbance or wave, then moves up to a tropical depression, then to a tropical storm (at which point it is given a name, but more on that later) and finally, if it keeps up the good work, it climbs the ranks to hurricane status.
I won’t go into the details of how hurricanes happen, there are plenty of sites you can find that info, but here’s one little snippet for you:
It’s the rotation of the Earth that forces the air being sucked up to move in a circular motion around a centre of low air pressure. In fancy pants land that’s known as the Coriolis Effect. This whole system is able to refuel itself, so the storm can pick up speed and develop. Uh oh.
I went outside to feel the effects for myself.
Turns out she passed us by and we were left with nothing but a little shower.
Since tropical storms are the precursors to hurricanes they occur more often and do not necessarily develop into anything more serious.
While Chantal passed us by with only a whisper, she did pick up speed and head towards other Caribbean islands and we are all too aware of how some tropical storms have developed into devastating monsters. There are different ways to measure how ‘large’ a hurricane is. Wind speed, cost and death toll are some of the ways that a hurricane’s strength might be defined.
As tropical storms develop the World Meteorological Organization assigns them names in alphabetical order. This way everyone can communicate clearly about specific storms, especially as there is often more than one storm active at the same time. In fact this list shows all of the recent and future names:
Names used for Atlantic Tropical Storms
(Table from: http://geology.com/hurricanes/hurricane-names.shtml)
Each year a list of 21 names is assigned. (Notice the letters Q, U, X, Y and Z are not used).
During even-numbered years men’s names are given to odd-numbered storms and during odd-numbered years women’s names are given. (How very fair ‘n’ square). A name can be recycled after 6 years, but after a name is assigned to a particularly severe storm it will never be used again. The name Katrina, for example, is retired from use.
So, the next tropical storm will be Dorian from the Gaelic name Dorieann meaning “tempestuous weather”. Let’s hope he keeps his voice down.
Stay safe x