Hurricane Sandy has stirred up the pot. It’s yet to make landfall and I’m already in the eye of all jokes. However, it does feel really great to have all my friends groveling for mercy at my feet. Yes.
And just because the hurricane is my namesake, I’ve been asked for information about it, despite being many timezones away from it at the moment. Not many people are familiar with how strong a hurricane is, what its effects are or why hurricanes are called the names they are. In fact, many people are not even sure what a hurricane is.
What is a hurricane? A hurricane is a tropical cyclone that has a characteristic warm core or ‘eye’ and is surrounded by thunderstorms. The spin of a cyclone is counter-clockwise in the northern hemisphere and clockwise in the southern hemisphere, due to the Coriolis effect. A hurricane storm system is known by many other terms- hurricane(Atlantic), typhoon(Pacific), tropical depression, tropical storm and cyclone(southern hemisphere and Indian Ocean).
A tropical depression does not have an eye or the classic spiral shape. The depression graduates to a tropical storm, that has the shape, but doesn’t have a clear eye. Upon further strengthening, we have our famous hurricanes, that have both they eye and the definite spiral shape.
How is the size measured? The measurement is made from the eye of the hurricane to its outermost edges(isobars).
A radius of less than 222km/138mi is very small or midget.
A radius of 222 to 333km/138 to 207mi is small sized.
A radius of 333 to 666km/207mi to 420mi is average sized.
A radius of 666 to 888km/420 to 552mi is large.
Anything above that is Very Large.
Sandy is currently at 1,500km/930mi, making her the largest hurricane by diameter in history. This is God’s subtle way of telling me I’m fat.
How is the intensity decided? I’m actually too lazy to type this out, so here’s a screenshot from Wikipedia.
How are hurricanes named? This is definitely the most interesting part of this article. Hurricanes are named to spread awareness. Actually, tropical storms are named, and when they become hurricanes, they retain their names. (A hurricane’s name changes when it moves from the Atlantic basin to the Pacific and vice versa). Most people think that natural disasters and hurricanes are always named after women- this is accurate had the Second World War been going on now. The earliest names were actually names of Roman Catholic priests, like San Fernando. When two hurricanes struck on the same dates on different years, they were called “San Fernando the First” and “San Fernando the Second“. Men’s names started being used in 1978 or thereabouts. Now, the hurricane names are an even mix of male and female names that include common names found among ethnicities in a hurricane’s geographic location. Every year, male and female names are alternated each month. Moreover, this system alternates each year as well. Hence, during odd-numbered years, women’s names are given to odd-numbered months’ storms, and during even-numbered years, men’s names are given to odd-numbered months’ storms. Here is a list of present and future names of Atlantic hurricanes.
This cycle of names rotates every six years(four, in case of Pacific names). Hence, Jan 2018 might see hurricane Alberto again. However, some names are retired. This is done when a hurricane causes so much death and destruction that reusing the same name would be insensitive to people. Some such names are Manu in Australia, Heta in Pacific, and of course, Carol, Hazel, Diana and Katrina in the Atlantic.
Edit: As an afterthought, here’s some Hurricane Sandy Fibonacci for you-