Birth of a Hurricane

Hurricanes are powerful storm systems that have caused widespread property damage and unfortunately will continue to do so. Hurricanes are most apt to hit the Southeastern United States from Texas to Florida and up the Eastern seaboard. Hurricane Sandy, a 2012 storm that caused $68 billion of damage, impacted people all the way up to New England. Hurricane season in the Atlantic Ocean lasts from June 1 to Nov. 30. Most storms hit in and around September, however.

The first step of a hurricane forming happens when a tropical disturbance is created. This can happen in the ocean in places where the sea surface temperature is at least 80 degrees. These warm temperatures must also exist down to a depth of at least 160 feet. Once a cluster of thunderstorms forms in this area, a tropical disturbance has been created. This pushes the warm moist air sitting on top of the water up into the atmosphere.

The next step in the process is the development of a tropical depression. This happens when the air pressure falls, and the thunderstorms grow in size and start to merge with one another. Air flowing into the low pressure zone picks up energy from the warm sea and starts to rotate due to Coriolis effects that impact the earth at least 300 miles from the equator near the Tropic of Cancer. Maximum sustained winds at this stage of the process reach up to 39 mph.

The development of a tropical storm is the next step in the process. The entire system now becomes organized and takes on a cyclonic shape with a clear center. An eye, however, is usually not present yet. The thunderstorms become stronger, and the rain becomes heavier. This is also the stage that a name is usually assigned to the storm. These names are presented to storms to help forecasters and the public understand which storm is being referenced when storm watches and warnings are issued.

Maximum sustained winds at this stage reach up to 74 mph.

The final stage in the process is the storm evolving from the tropical storm stage to the hurricane stage. An eye, a relatively calm cloud-free round area, appears at this time. The eye is also usually 10-15 degrees warmer than the surrounding air. The surrounding storms spiral around this eye. The fastest winds and strongest thunderstorms are located closest to the eye. Hurricanes usually influence an area about 500 miles in diameter. Maximum sustained winds in a hurricane must exceed 74 mph to be designated as a hurricane.

Hurricanes often spawn violent tornadoes. For example, Hurricane Katrina produced 53 confirmed tornadoes, in Georgia (18), Alabama (10), Mississippi (10), Florida (5), Pennsylvania (5) and Virginia (5) in 2005. Thirty-four tornadoes developed over nine days as a result of Hurricane Isaac in 2012. States affected during this tornado outbreak included Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri and Illinois.

Although damage from flooding and high winds associated with hurricanes and tornadoes provides much of the devastation, a significant amount of hail damage also results from hail storms that develop from hurricanes. Items often damaged by hail include cars and buildings. Hail damage on roofs often goes unnoticed, and those who experience these storms are encouraged to check their roofs.

Many who have property damage resulting from hurricanes contact a property damage lawyer. Some who have received damage specifically related to hail storms resulting from these hurricanes consult a hailstorms attorney. Those who are going to file claims with their insurance companies are encouraged to contact a property damage attorney before doing so to ensure that they will be treated fairly and justly compensated.