A look into tropical storm, hurricane formation

Formation of tropical storms and hurricanes that occur in the Gulf, Atlantic.
WALB New 10's First Alert Meteorologist Tommie Owens explains how a hurricane forms and how to prepare for a hurricane event.
Published: May. 31, 2023 at 5:57 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

ALBANY, Ga. (WALB) - Tropical systems often start out as tropical waves that take a journey into warm water that is at least 150 feet in depth. This makes the ocean the perfect place for development, especially during the summer months in the Northern Hemisphere.

Most take a journey across the Atlantic Ocean to our east and the Gulf of Mexico to our south. These areas are where most development of tropical systems occurs that impact Southwest Georgia.

But first, there are a few necessary ingredients for storms to develop.

The tropical wave usually creates a catalyst for unstable air which helps destabilize the air. As it rises, the air cools with height creating convection, known as vertical motion, and cloud development. The ingredients needed include continual moisture at 15,000 feet, no significant chance in velocity of winds with heights and ocean temperatures will be in the 80s.

Once we see consistent organization for several days, a tropical depression forms when the organized clouds and storms have a circulation of at least 38 mph. Next, a tropical storm forms when the circulation has sustained winds between 39-73 mph. The last stage is known as a hurricane when the now intense organized tropical thunderstorms have a very strong circulation of winds that reach upward of 74 mph or more. When a hurricane forms, we can categorize the system using the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale, which ranges from Category 1-5. This system is based on the sustained winds of the hurricane and the higher the winds, the greater the chance for damage.