shows large storm approaching the north carolina coast
Tropical storm Isaias is expected to re-strengthen into a hurricane before it comes ashore in North Carolina near Wilmington. Satellite image courtesy: National Hurricane Center/ National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

By Isobelle Hughes

Most people think hurricanes are very scary. You would think so right?

Have you ever thought about why storm chasers do what they do?

They do it for the research, data, information they could get no other way, and most importantly the thrill of it, being so close to a major storm, whether it is a hurricane, tropical storm, tornado, or even a cyclone.

Hurricanes are definitely a terrifying natural disaster, but they can also be amazing.

Scientists have discovered so much information about hurricanes. They are so interesting to learn about. 

Because of all this research and information that storm chasers gather, we know just about everything to know about hurricanes, like how they form, how they make their path to landfall, how strong they can be and so much more.

Hurricanes are a predictable natural disaster, meaning scientists know and can tell when they are coming. Unlike hurricanes, tornadoes are very unpredictable, meaning scientists cannot easily predict if or when there will be a tornado.

Now they can somewhat predict if a tornado is likely to happen somewhere in a certain range, and then they can issue a tornado warning or watch.

Now, climate and climate change plays a huge part in hurricanes and tropical storms.

Over the last century, the average surface temperature of Earth has increased by about one degree Fahrenheit.

A NASA analysis released at the beginning of this year shows that 2020 tied with 2016 as the warmest years on record.

The higher latitudes have warmed more than the equatorial regions, scientists have found.

Hurricanes form in warm, tropical ocean waters, and their path is determined by winds and wind belts.

The path of a hurricane depends upon the wind belt it is in. Hurricanes take their energy from the warm surface water of the tropics, which explains why hurricanes disappear quickly once they move over cold water or large land masses.

This year is expected by meteorologists to be a very busy hurricane season with more named storms and more major hurricanes.

For 2021, meteorologists predicted in May that we could see anywhere from 13 to 20 named storms with winds of at least 39 miles per hour or higher.

Six to 10 of those storms could become hurricanes with winds of at least 74 miles per hour, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

NOAA predicts an above average 2021 hurricane season with 60 percent confidence. 

With 30 overall named storms in 2020, there were more named storms than there have been since scientists started recording.

Hurricanes are subject to a number of climate change-related influences:

  • As sea surface temperatures warm, tropical storm wind speeds could get stronger bringing more damage upon landfall.
  • Sea level rise is likely to make future coastal storms, including hurricanes, more damaging.

So what do you think? Do you think more hurricanes are exciting or frightening?

When 12-year-old youth reporter Isobelle Hughes moved from England to coastal Onslow County, North Carolina, she didn’t know what to expect from hurricanes.