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Weather experiment: Learning about hurricanes

Posted at 6:45 AM, Apr 28, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-28 08:35:15-04

GRAND RAPIDS — It's something we don’t really see in West Michigan but hurricanes are extreme weather many along the U.S. coasts deal with each year. Here at home we often see remnants from these storms but not the direct landfall. The hurricane season starts June first and continues until November so let's learn some more about them!

What you need:
- Piece of construction paper
- Marker
- Scissors
- String
- Lamp

Step 1: Draw a large spiral with your marker on the construction piece of paper

Step 2: Cut out that spiral

Step 3: Punch a hole in the top of the spiral

Step 4: Loop the string through the hole and tie at the top

Step 5: Hold the spiral piece by the string over a lamp that has the lamp shade removed

Step 6: Wait and see what happens!

We created a hurricane! When you hold the spiral over the lamp the light bulb gives off heat which makes the spiral slightly spin! This acts like the rising warm air off the ocean just like a hurricane.

What is a hurricane exactly though? They form over water and can move onto land but they only occur during times of year when the ocean temperatures reach at least 80 degrees at the surface. Hurricanes form when warm moist air over the warm ocean water rises and creates a low pressure area near the surface of the water which is immediately replaced by cooler air. So then that new cooler air rushes in quickly warms up and rises was well and starts to make another low pressure area where cooler air rushes in. This same cycle happens over and over and over until a hurricane may form.

Hurricanes have 4 different stages. They start out as a tropical disturbance and build to a tropical depression than a tropical storm and finally a hurricane. Hurricanes then have categories of strength on the Saffir-Simpson scale ranging from 1 to 5 with 5 being the strongest.

Fun fact! These extreme storms are called hurricanes in the North Atlantic but in the Western Pacific they are called typhoons and in the region between Australia and Africa they are called cyclones.

There you have it, we created a hurricane! Send our meteorologist Candace Monacelli your pictures doing this experiments at home! She will feature future meteorologists on my Facebook page daily!