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Danger Zone: Fuel for the Storm

3 minutes

(Describer) Under a round logo of a wave, title: Ocean Today.

(female narrator) Hurricanes are one of the most powerful and destructive forces on Earth, but did you ever wonder where they get their strength?

(Describer) Clouds swirl in a satellite image.

The formation of a hurricane is complicated, but, basically, it depends on three factors. First you need warm water, at least 80 degrees; the second ingredient is moist air; and, finally, there needs to be converging winds for a hurricane to form. The actual process begins with a cluster of thunderstorms moving across the surface of the ocean. When the surface water is warm, the storm sucks up heat energy from the water, like a straw sucks up a liquid. This creates moisture in the air. If wind conditions are right, the storm becomes a hurricane.

(Describer) Rain falls sideways and wind blows trees.

This heat energy is the fuel for the storm, and the warmer the water, the more moisture is in the air. That could mean bigger and stronger hurricanes.

(Describer) Colors spiral in computer animation.

Satellite data shows the heat and energy transfer in action. Notice how this hurricane leaves a trail of cooler water behind.

(Describer) It appears as blue in the animation.

Scientists use sea surface temperature data from satellites to help forecast the intensity of storms. Hurricane Katrina, the third largest to make U.S. landfall, crossed over Gulf waters that had temperatures between two and three degrees higher than normal. This spawned sustained winds of over 140 miles per hour, extending 100 miles from the eye of the storm. With greater intensity, there's a higher chance for death and destruction. This is why warming ocean temperatures matter. It's like adding fuel to a fire, and taking the world, literally, by storm.

(Describer) Titles: Narrator: Randi Miller. OceanToday.noaagov. Accessibility provided by the US Department of Education.

Accessibility provided by the U.S. Department of Education.

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Hurricanes are one of the most powerful and destructive forces on Earth. How do they form? The formation of a hurricane is complicated, but basically, it depends on 3 factors: warm water, moist air, and converging winds. Part of the "Danger Zone" series.

Media Details

Runtime: 3 minutes

Danger Zone
Episode 1
3 minutes
Grade Level: 7 - 12
Danger Zone
Episode 2
2 minutes
Grade Level: 7 - 12
Danger Zone
Episode 3
4 minutes
Grade Level: 7 - 12
Danger Zone
Episode 4
3 minutes
Grade Level: 9 - 12
Danger Zone
Episode 5
3 minutes
Grade Level: 9 - 12
Danger Zone
Episode 6
3 minutes
Grade Level: 9 - 12
Danger Zone
Episode 7
3 minutes
Grade Level: 9 - 12
Danger Zone
Episode 8
4 minutes
Grade Level: 7 - 12
Danger Zone
Episode 9
3 minutes
Grade Level: 7 - 12
Danger Zone
Episode 10
3 minutes
Grade Level: 7 - 12