Hurricane Questions

September 8, 2005 at 11:04 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Since the catastrophic arrival of Hurricane Katrina on the Gulf Coast, we have received a number of questions about hurricanes from various viewers in our area. These are questions that come up frequently, so I thought I would pass on thos questions, and my answers here on our weather blog so that others can read them.

1. My question is this. Since there are storm planes that fly through, over and around hurricanes, is it possible for them to drop a timed small explosive into it, out over the ocean. (before it is anywhere near land). Drop it from way above it, with a enough time lapse, and distance, that the plane can be out of the path, when it explodes into the hurricane. Wouldn’t that disperse it?

Answer: We get this question from time to time. But the answer is that most people have no idea of the amount of energy in a typical hurricane. A monster like Katrina is hundreds of miles across, and releases more energy than the entire human race can produce. Dropping a bomb in the middle of a hurricane would be like trying to stop a speeding semi tractor-trailer by sending a gnat flying into the windshield.

Here is a link to the National Hurricane Center, where they answer the same question in more detail:

2. My name is meghan. I am six years old. Why do hurricanes have names and tornados don’t?

Answer: Research has shown that it is much easier for the public to remember a hurricane if it has a name attached to it, instead of just latitude-longitude data. Also, if there are several storms at the same time, it is easier to remember which is which if they have names. For instance, right now, we have Hurricane Maria, Hurricane Nate, and Hurricane Ophelia, all at the same time. And since hurricanes can last a week or more, names make it easier to keep track of them. Here is a link with more information about hurricane names:

Tornadoes, on the other hand, rarely last more than a half hour. In fact, most only last a few minutes. So there is no time to name them before they dissipate. Also, while we generally have 10 to 15 tropical storms or hurricanes each year, there will usually be hundreds of tornadoes across the country. We would run out of names if we tried to name them all!

3. I’ve been thinking about this for a while now and how active this hurricane season has been. I’m already surprised that we hit Ophelia for the named system and now (as far as I’ve watched the weather) only 11 names remain. What are the chances that all of the names in the 2005 Hurricane Season will be used up? If that happens, what will happen then? It hasn’t been done in the past but, it seems that theres definitely an off-chance that this will happen. I hope these two questions can be answered.

Answer: We are only now reaching the midpoint of the hurricane season, so you are correct that we could indeed use up the names on the list. In fact, it is very likely to happen, because there are no names used for the letters Q, X, Y or Z. If that happens, my understanding is that the weather service will start naming storms using the Greek alphabet: alpha, beta, gamma, delta, etc… Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.


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