A hurricane can be a frightening event for a child who has never experienced one before. While many children may think storms are "cool" or exciting, hurricanes that cause damage and power outages can have an entirely different effect on children, especially when they have little information about them. By understanding a few key elements of how a hurricane works, children can gain some insight into one of nature's most unpredictable forces.
One of the most important things for children to know about hurricanes is how and when they are formed. Hurricanes do not simply come out of nowhere- there must be a few crucial elements at play that favour the formation of a hurricane. According to Weather Wiz Kids, a weather information centre for children, hurricanes only form when ocean water reaches a temperature of 26.7 degrees C or higher., In addition, the wind surrounding the ocean must be blowing in such a way that it creates a circular and upwards motion with the water to form the hurricane.
In the United States, there are two distinct hurricane seasons; one for the Atlantic states, and one for the Pacific states. According to the National Weather Service's National Hurricane Center, hurricane season for the Atlantic starts on June 1st and ends on November 30th. Hurricane season for the Pacific starts on May 15th, but also ends on June 1st. Of course, outside the U.S. many countries have their own hurricane seasons, so it is wise to research the hurricane seasons of any country you may be visiting.
Hurricane Speed and Length
One of the most important factors of a hurricane is it's speed. Without significant speed, a hurricane is more likely to be classified as a tropical storm. However, when high pressure winds are combined with the ocean temperatures and wind direction described above, a storm becomes classified as a hurricane when it reaches speeds of 74mph. Hurricanes typically do not last more than one week.
The Hurricane's "Eye"
An explanation of hurricanes to a child would not be complete without touching on the subject of the hurricane's "eye." The term "eye" is used to describe the centre of the hurricane, which in photographs or pictograms appears to be the hollow centre of the cyclone. While it may seem like the "eye" of the hurricane is the most treacherous part of the hurricane, it is actually the calmest, with light rain and mild winds. It is the exterior of the hurricane that causes damage, not the interior.