Hurricane season has gotten more interesting in the Pacific region, with the first major hurricane of the season rising to a Category 4 hurricane on July 10th. Hurricane Emilia is now a category 2 hurricane, but as it moves into cooler waters as it moves north, it will likely become less intense. The storm is located southwest of the southern tip of Baja California.
Hurricane Emilia May Be Weakening, But Another Storm is Brewing
A low pressure system that is following Emilia in the Eastern Pacific area has developed ‘hot towers’ and has become a tropical storm. Initially dubbed System 98E, this system is located south of Manzanillo, Mexico, and was renamed Tropical Storm Fabio early on July 12th. Fabio is sustaining winds of up to 40 miles per hour, and is expected to continue to strengthen today.
Warm Water and Low Wind Shear Create The Perfect Storm
Conditions have to be right for a tropical storm or hurricane to form. In areas with low wind shear, (wind shear refers to a difference in wind speed and direction in a limited area) tropical storms can easily organize and begin moving across the surface of the ocean, since low wind shear equals less resistance for the storm.
Warm water is another essential ingredient. To create a hurricane, warm air full of water vapor rises above the warm ocean in the tropics. As the water vapour rises, it cools and turns into a liquid, forming clouds. This change in the water’s state (from gas to liquid) releases heat. As water evaporates once more due to the heat, the air pressure on the ocean’s surface lowers, and more water moves into the air, rising, and releasing more energy. Eventually, giant columns of clouds form, and a tropical storm is born. As the storm grows, it releases more energy, which allows it to grow even more.
2012 Has Been an Active Hurricane Season
Hurricane season in the Pacific began on May 15th. Since then, hurricanes Daniel, Carlotta, and Bud have moved through the Pacific region. This past week, Daniel weakened from a hurricane into a tropical storm, and then a tropical depression, when the center became exposed to wind shear and weakened.
The Atlantic area is currently quiet, although it has been quite active this year as well. The Atlantic region has seen four tropical storms that began before July; Tropical Storm Alberto and Tropical Storm Beryl didn’t seem to read the calendar this year, and they began several days before hurricane season was due to start.
Emelia and Fabio
The hurricane season continues, as storms like Emilia and Fabio develop, strengthen, then weaken and dissipate. The 2012 hurricane forecast is currently relatively calm, but weather watchers will continue to monitor all storms as they develop.
NASA. Hurricane Season 2012: Hurricane Emilia (Eastern Pacific Ocean). (2012). Accessed July 12, 2012.
NASA. Hurricane Season 2012: Tropical Storm Fabio (Eastern Pacific Ocean). (2012). Accessed July 12, 2012.