Whipping up a hurricane calls for a number of ingredients readily available in tropical areas:
Mix it all together, and you’ve got a hurricane—maybe. Even when all these factors come together, a hurricane doesn’t always develop.
Hurricanes are powerhouse weather events that suck heat from tropical waters to fuel their fury. These violent storms form over the ocean, often beginning as a tropical wave—a low pressure area that moves through the moisture-rich tropics, possibly enhancing shower and thunderstorm activity.
As this weather system moves westward across the tropics, warm ocean air rises into the storm, forming an area of low pressure underneath. This causes more air to rush in. The air then rises and cools, forming clouds and thunderstorms. Up in the clouds, water condenses and forms droplets, releasing even more heat to power the storm.
When wind speeds within such a storm reach 74 mph, it’s classified as a hurricane. The terms “hurricane” and “tropical cyclone” refer to the same kind of storm: a rotating, organized system of clouds and thunderstorms that originates over tropical or subtropical waters and has closed, low-level circulation.
During just one hurricane, raging winds can churn out about half as much energy as the electrical generating capacity of the entire world, while cloud and rain formation from the same storm might release a staggering 400 times that amount.
Less than one percent of algal blooms actually produce toxins. Not all algal blooms are harmful, and some may actually be beneficial. Phytoplankton are microscopic algae that form the base of the marine food web, and therefore, all other life in the ocean relies on them. Blooms can also be good indicators of environmental changes not only in the water, but also on land.