Weather Facts: Stages of Tropical Systems - MyFoxAustin.com | KTBC Fox 7 | News, Weather, Sports

Weather Facts: Stages of Tropical Systems

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Six named storms have formed and the peak time for hurricanes is still a month away.

In order for tropical systems to form, the ocean water has to be warm enough and high moisture levels need to be in place. They will begin to strengthen when a closed low pressure forms with light winds aloft.

Tropical systems have to go through stages before growing up into a hurricane. When storms organize around a defined counter-clockwise circulation with winds of 38 mph miles per hour or less the system can be called a tropical depression.

If the winds increase between 39 and 73 miles per hour it will be a classified a tropical storm and is given a name.

It becomes a hurricane when the maximum sustained winds reach 74 miles per hour or higher.

A hurricane acts like a heat engine. It sucks in heat and energy from the warm ocean water and the upper levels of the storm provides the exhaust. A hurricane is like a car if the muffler is clogged it will not run properly. All the upward moving moisture in the center must go somewhere. The light upper winds will allow the moisture and energy to be fanned out. If this process is disrupted the storm will fall apart.

A healthy hurricane will have an eye which is normally 20 miles wide. The strongest winds can be found in the eye wall. The outer rain bands can extend 300 miles from the center.

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