CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) — Tropical Storm Ophelia made landfall in the Carolinas on Saturday and has been sweeping up the East Coast. The 22News Storm Team is Working for You explaining how these tropical storms form and why we get them mainly on the East Coast.
We get a lot of hurricanes on the East Coast this time of year. We are firmly entrenched in what is known as hurricane season. The 2023 hurricane season is from June 1st, until November 30th. Now let’s take a look at why and how these storms form.
For a tropical storm to form you first need air. As air moves up and forms clouds, that is called convection. The storm clouds need to maintain an elevation of 15,000 feet or more. After that the storm needs warm ocean air about 80 degrees or warmer, that is when the cell turns into a tropical depression.
The clouds and thunderstorms then start to circle at about 39 miles per hour or less. Any more than that and it will become a tropical storm. A tropical storm is the same thing, but winds of 39 to 73 miles per hour. Circulating winds is not an indication of how fast the storm is moving, that is just how fast it is spinning.
The storms usually move anywhere from 5 to 25 miles per hour laterally. While the West Coast saw a hurricane in the month of August, that was the first one in over 80 years! The U.S. mainly gets them in the Gulf of Mexico where there is a lot of warm water, which is perfect conditions for a hurricane.
A lot of the storms will start in Florida or Georgia, but we can still see them in the northern regions of the East Coast through the Atlantic Ocean.
The one that we are tracking right now is Post Tropical Storm Ophelia. It only has winds of 25 miles-per-hour, and is expected to run out of the DMV(D.C., Maryland, Virginia) area soon because of the jetstream pushing winds east to west.