Hurricane Matthew is currently all over the American news.
Since this is relevant news, I thought it would be a good idea to give you some interesting hurricane facts in English.
Goals of this post
- You will learn five useful facts about hurricanes in English
- You will understand the difference (similarities) between hurricanes, typhoons, and tropical storms
English Lesson: Interesting Hurricane Facts
1. What is a hurricane?
A hurricane is a violent storm with strong winds.
It is usually in the shape of a circle, and in the center of the storm is a calm area called the eye of the hurricane.
It is called the “eye” because it looks like a human eye.
You can see the eye of the hurricane in the picture to the right.
Another name for a hurricane is a cyclone because of its unique shape.
2. Where do hurricanes occur?
Hurricane Alley is the name for the area where hurricanes occur.
Hurricane season is the time when most hurricanes occur.
Hurricane season begins on June 1st and ends on November 30th of each year.
3. How do hurricanes get their names?
Hurricane names are in alphabetical order.
This means that the first hurricane of each year begins with the letter “A”.
This means that for the hurricane season of 2016, Matthew is the 13th hurricane to form.
The first hurricane of 2016 happened in January.
It was a category one hurricane called Hurricane Alex.
Note: January is not during hurricane season, but hurricanes can form any time.
An interesting fact about hurricane names is that they alternate (change) between men’s and women’s names.
The hurricane prior to Hurricane Matthew was called Lisa. (L –> M)
The Next storm after Matthew is Nicole. (M –> N)
The see all the names of the hurricanes in 2016, click here.
4. What are “categories” of hurricanes?
Think of a category of a hurricane as a grade or measure of how strong or dangerous the hurricane will be.
There are five categories of hurricanes.
A category one hurricane is not too strong, but a category five hurricane is the strongest, most powerful, and most dangerous.
Hurricane Matthew was once a category five hurricane(!) but it has since been downgraded, meaning it has gotten weaker.
Also, the wind speed determines what we call the storm.
- A storm with wind less than 39 miles (63 kilometers) per hour is called a tropical depression.
- A storm with wind above 39 miles (63 kilometers) per hour is called a tropical storm.
- A storm with wind above 74 miles (119 kilometers) per hour is called a hurricane.
And currently, Hurricane Matthew is a post-tropical cyclone.
This is just an official term meaning that the storm was formerly a hurricane and is now broken up.
It can still have high winds and be dangerous, even though it is no longer a hurricane.
5. What about typhoons and cyclones?
Actually, typhoons, tropical storms, hurricanes are basically all the same!
They are all officially called cyclones. They all have the same storm shape.
In other words, a hurricane is a cyclone. A typhoon is a cyclone. A tropical storm is a cyclone.
The only difference between all of these storm names is where they occur.
Hurricanes occur in areas around the Southeastern United States, like the state of Florida.
Typhoons are cyclone storms that usually occur in the North Pacific Ocean.
Typhoons usually occur in Asia: The Philippines, Korea, Japan, etc.
In other parts of the world, like in the Indian Ocean, they are called tropical cyclones.
Great job! Now you know that a hurricane is just a cyclone that occurs in a certain area–like the Caribbean Sea.
Now you understand that a category two storm is weaker than a category four storm.
And now you know what the name of each hurricane means.
The names go in alphabetical order, and alternate between a boy’s name and a girl’s name.
Feel free to share this post on Facebook or Twitter!