How does a hurricane form?

It takes a lot more than warm ocean waters to create a hurricane

HOUSTON – Hurricane season is from June 1 to Nov. 30. The peak for these ocean monsters to form is mid-September. For a hurricane to form, certain elements need to be in place.

June 1st to November 30th (Copyright 2023 by KPRC Click2Houston - All rights reserved.)

Come down here with me. It all starts with one drop of rain. One lone thunderstorm above the ocean. Because of the spin of the earth a circulation starts within the storms, but you must have the right ingredients to get beyond this point.

To become a tropical storm or hurricane, ocean temperatures have to be 80 degrees.

But it also has to be 80 degrees…to at least 150 feet deep. The Gulf and Caribbean already have surface temperatures above 80 degrees.

The Gulf and Caribbean are already above 80 degrees (Copyright 2023 by KPRC Click2Houston - All rights reserved.)

That’s the water.

You also need the upper levels of the atmosphere to be colder than the ground. Air has to cool with height like climbing a mountain. If there’s an inversion, warmer temperatures above the ground, a storm will have a tough time getting organized.

Upper-level winds need to be the same speed and go in the same direction from the ground to 5,000 feet. If upper-level winds come from a different direction, that will weaken or prevent a hurricane from forming.

This is called wind shear. And during El Nino summers wind shear is a factor, and one of the reasons this hurricane season forecast is for a lower than average or average, storm total.

High shear can prevent a storms from forming or weaken it (Copyright 2023 by KPRC Click2Houston - All rights reserved.)

But when everything is perfect, a hurricane will form and strengthen. These ingredients are like a car. You need good tires, a good engine and plenty of gas to make a tropical system go. If you haven’t gotten our updated KPRC Hurricane Tracker 2 app, make sure you download it today.

Download today (Copyright 2023 by KPRC Click2Houston - All rights reserved.)

About the Author:

Two-time Emmy award winning meteorologist and recipient of the 2022 American Meteorological Society’s award for Excellence in Science Reporting by a Broadcast Meteorologist.