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Daily News Analysis

Hurricane Beryl

2nd July, 2024 Geography

Hurricane Beryl

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  • Following their win in the ICC World T20 Cup, the Indian cricket team has been stranded in Barbados due to Hurricane Beryl.

Hurricane Beryl

  • It is the earliest category 4 storm – sustaining winds of at least 130 miles per hour (209 kilometres per hour) – to mark the beginning of the Atlantic hurricane season this year.
  • It is currently surging through the Windward Islands, the southern part of the Lesser Antilles, which form part of the West Indies and comprise Barbados, Grenada and Trinidad and Tobago.

Hurricane Beryl

What are hurricanes and how do they form?

  • Tropical cyclones or hurricanes use warm, moist air as fuel, and therefore form over warm ocean waters near the equator.
  • As NASA describes it, when the warm, moist air rises upward from the surface of the ocean, it creates an area of low air pressure below. Air from the surrounding areas rushes to fill this place, eventually rising when it becomes warm and moist too.
  • When the warm air rises and cools off, the moisture forms clouds. This system of clouds and winds continues to grow and spin, fuelled by the ocean’s heat and the water that evaporates from its surface.
  • As such storm systems rotate faster and faster, an eye forms in the centre. Storms that form towards the north of the equator rotate counterclockwise, while those that form to the south spin clockwise because of the rotation of the Earth.


The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale (SSHWS) classifies hurricanes into five categories based on their sustained wind speeds, averaged over a one-minute interval 10 meters above the ground:

Category 1

  • 74–95 mph winds can cause some damage, such as broken tree branches, uprooted young trees, and damage to roofs, gutters, and vinyl siding.

Category 2

  • 96–110 mph winds can cause extensive damage, such as major roof and siding damage, blocked roadways, and more tree damage.

Category 3

  • 111–129 mph winds can cause devastating damage, such as uprooted trees, snapped branches, structural damage to small buildings, and power outages that last for days or weeks.

Category 4

  • 130–156 mph winds can cause catastrophic damage, such as roofs falling apart and exterior walls collapsing.

Category 5

  • Winds greater than 157 mph can cause catastrophic damage, plus complete roof failure on many residential and industrial buildings.


Are hurricanes becoming more severe now?

  • As hurricanes make landfall, they weaken, since they are cut off from the fuelling moisture provided by the oceans. But in a study published in the journal Nature on November 11, researchers noted that a warming world may be responsible for the increasingly slow decay of hurricanes.
  • In the study, the researchers claim that warmer sea surface temperatures induce a slower decay by increasing the stock of moisture that a hurricane carries with it as it hits the land.
  • The NHC noted that subtropical storm Theta, in the Northeast Atlantic, became the 29th named storm of the 2020 Atlantic Hurricane season. This beats the record for the most named storms previously held by the 2005 hurricane season.

What is the difference between a hurricane and a tropical storm?

  • There is no difference. Depending on where they occur, hurricanes may be called typhoons or cyclones. As per NASA, the scientific name for all these kinds of storms is tropical cyclones.
  • The tropical cyclones that form over the Atlantic Ocean or the eastern Pacific Ocean are called hurricanes and the ones that form in the Northwest Pacific are called typhoons.
  • Tropical storms that form in the Bay of Bengal or the Arabian Sea are called cyclones.




Q)  Consider the following statements about Hurricanes:

  1. Statement I: Hurricanes derive their energy from warm, moist air over ocean waters near the equator.
  2. Statement II: Hurricanes in the Northern Hemisphere rotate clockwise, while those in the Southern Hemisphere rotate counterclockwise due to the Earth's rotation.
  3. Statement III: Category 3 hurricanes on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale can cause catastrophic damage, including complete roof failure on many residential and industrial buildings.
  4. Statement IV: A warming world may contribute to hurricanes maintaining strength longer as they make landfall due to increased moisture from warmer sea surface temperatures.

Select the correct combination using the codes below:

A) Only I and II
B) Only II and III
C) Only III and IV
D) All of the above


B) Only II and III


Statement I is Incorrect:

Hurricanes derive their energy from warm, moist air, but it's not limited to ocean waters near the equator; they can form in tropical and subtropical regions over warm waters.

Statement II is incorrect:

Hurricanes in the Northern Hemisphere rotate counterclockwise, while those in the Southern Hemisphere rotate clockwise due to the Coriolis effect, not the Earth's rotation as stated.

Statement III is Correct:

Category 3 hurricanes can cause devastating damage, but not to the extent of complete roof failure as described for Category 5 hurricanes.

Statement IV is Correct:

Research suggests that warmer sea surface temperatures can indeed contribute to hurricanes maintaining strength longer as they make landfall due to increased moisture, which supports their energy.