Seven years ago hurricane Katrina devastated Louisiana, causing millions of worth of damage to the city of New Orleans and uprooting the large population. Jump forward seven years and another hurricane, named Isaac, is following the same trend as old Katrina. Luckily for everyone involved this time it seems it should be a tad tamer. They’re terrifying natural occurrences but how are they formed?
Hurricanes are like giant engines that use warm, moist air as fuel. They only form over warm waters near the Equator and start to look like a hurricane when warm air rises, causing an area of lower air pressure below. Air from surrounding areas with higher air pressure pushes in to the low pressure area. Then that “new” air becomes warm and moist and rises, too. As the warm air continues to rise, the surrounding air swirls in to take its place. As the warmed, moist air rises and cools off, the water in the air forms clouds. The whole system of clouds and wind spins and grows, fed by the ocean’s heat and water evaporating from the surface.
…it passed over warm waters from the Gulf Stream’s Loop Current…
The science behind Katrina meant that when the hurricane left the Gulf of Mexico it passed over warm waters from the Gulf Stream’s Loop Current, and the heat intensified the power of the hurricane; Isaac on the other hand has opted to move around the warmer waters and although it picked up some heat has stayed relatively cool on its journey. However, this tropical storm still has left a definite mark on the islands it has passed over, already killing 29 people.
With the storm moving at a slower pace, we can expect wind speeds to be half that of Katrina (a whopping 224 km/h!) and with the destruction of Katrina in recent memory, mass evacuations and preparations have taken place. The only bad side from a slow moving hurricane is the increased threat of torrential flooding; with a force so large and an increase of rainfall staying in the same place for a longer amount of time, water levels will rise beyond normal limits.
Isaac is dangerous, but will be nowhere as bad as Katrina. America has made the right decisions so far, however only time will tell the true damage that Isaac will do to the Southern states.