Mechanics Of Hurricane


The primary source of energy for a hurricane is the liberation of the heat of condensation from water vapor condensing at high altitudes. The initial source for evaporation is the solar heating. Let us look at the mechanics of hurricane in this article, in order to understand the whole process.


Just visualize a massive vertical heat engine propped up by mechanics driven by physical forces such as the rotation and gravity of the Earth. The hurricane mechanics can be understood by viewing a special type of convective complex, developing over an enormous source of relative warmth and moisture. A large fluctuation of energy is required to lower the atmospheric pressure more than a few millibars. The strength of the hurricane depends solely on the inflow of warmth and moisture from the underlying ocean surface. A major amount of the inflow in the cyclone is in the lowest 1 kilometer.


Moving on with the technicalities of hurricane, the condensation leads to higher wind speeds, with the tiny proportion of the released energy converting into mechanical energy. The high speed winds, along with the lower pressure causes increased surface evaporation and thus leading to even more condensation. Most of the energy released forces updrafts that raise the height of the storm clouds, thus speeding up condensation. As long as conditions are constructive for tropical hurricane development, this positive feedback loop carries on. Other aspects like a continued lack of equilibrium in air mass distribution also infuse energy to the cyclone. The rotation of the Earth causes the whole system to spin giving it a cyclonic features and affecting the course of the storm. This effect is known as the Coriolis effect.


For the hurricane process, the convection is strongest in a tropical type of weather, as it characterizes the initial domain of the tropical cyclone. To go on driving its heat engine, a hurricane must stay over warm water, as it provides the much required atmospheric moisture to keep the constructive feedback loop running. When a hurricane passes over land, its strength weakens rapidly as it is cut off from its source of heat.


As the hurricane passes over the ocean, it causes the upper layers of the ocean to cool considerably which is caused by gushing of cold water from deeper in the ocean because of the wind. This can control the following mechanics of hurricane as the cooler water can cause the storm to loose its strength. Additional cooling may also arise from falling raindrops as well as clouds covering the ocean, thus protecting the ocean surface from direct sunlight. All these effects can combine to create a striking plunge in sea surface temperature over a large area in just a few days.