While most people know about the storm’s winds, rip currents and high waves, what they don’t realize is how hurricanes affect marine life. For one, hurricanes can wreak havoc on coral reefs and other sea life that lives in water it mixes up.
When a hurricane forms, it’s usually triggered by a disturbance in the atmosphere. This causes warm, moist air to rise from the ocean surface, a process known as evaporation.
Underneath the rising air, low pressure builds up like a vacuum that sucks in more air. This positive feedback loop fuels and strengthens the hurricane.
As it moves over the ocean, a hurricane develops in three distinct parts: rain bands on the outer edge of the storm, the eyewall and the cloud-free eye.
The eyewall, the strongest part of the hurricane, is a dense wall of thunderstorms that surrounds the center. The wind speed in the eyewall can vary from very weak to strong, and it can grow or shrink.
A hurricane’s eyewall can also change in size or shape, and double (concentric) eyewalls can form.
Hurricanes form in a variety of ways, with two of the most common being the Fujiwhara Effect and tornadoes. In both cases, a hurricane’s eyewalls rotate in a counterclockwise pattern around a central point of rotation. This creates an updraft, pulling the warm, moist air near the surface of the water into a spiral, and pushing it up and around the walls before descending back down on the storm’s outer edges.