How to track a hurricane
Hurricanes, also known as cyclones or typhoons, are huge, devastating tropical storms that can be up to 600 miles wide. They have strong, forceful winds that spiral inward and upward circling around the “eye” of the storm. Inside the eye, there are clear skies and light winds, however, surrounding the eye wall there are bands of wind and rain that spread out for over hundreds or thousands of miles. Hurricanes begin as tropical disturbances over warm ocean water (27°c or 80°F) and gathers heat and energy as it moves across the ocean. As evaporation from the ocean water increases its power, it changes into a tropical depression (wind speeds of less than 38 mph), then tropical storm (wind speeds of 39-73 mph) to finally a hurricane (wind speeds greater than 75mph). Hurricanes can last two weeks or more over open water and moves about 10-20 miles per hour. The safety of millions of people depends on the meteorologists and their ability to track these storms. Hurricanes may not be dangerous over open water, but are devastating when they hit land. They can cause torrential rains, high winds and storm surges as well as tornadoes, flash floods and land slides. Without warning of these hurricanes approaching, millions could die. The most effective tools meteorologists use are satellite images, radar and aircraft reconnaissance to study and warn people of approaching hurricanes.
Satellite imagery is one of the helpful tools meteorologists use to provide information on hurricanes. They give accurate photos every 30 minutes as images from the satellite are taken about 22,000 miles above the equator. Satellites capture images of visible clouds and air circulation patterns that help to track, observe and predict where hurricanes are heading. They also record vital temperatures and wind speeds of the hurricane that can determine the severity of the storm. Having this information, meteorologists can warn and evacuate communities as to where the hurricane may make landfall so the potential for death is minimized. The only downside to satellite imagery of hurricanes is that they can’t be used on land and are only effective over open water. Researches are hopeful that these satellites will one day be able to understand the storm and eventually predict the actual time of when the storm will make landfall.
Another way to track hurricanes is through radar. Radars translate pulses of energy from incoming precipitation and calculate the energy that is returned through a radar receiver. There is to different ways to use radar, slow scanning mode and precipitation mode. When it comes to these slow scanning mode and precipitation mode, precipitation mode is better. While slow scanning mode is used for when there is no or little activity of precipitation or movement in the area, while precipitation mode is used for faster scan time and for active weather. Radar uses Doppler technology, which has 2 radar products used...