The birth of Hurricane Julia

Hurricane Julia looks like it should steer clear from land, but there is a storm brewing in the Atlantic.

    Hurricane Igor, headed towards Bermuda, is a category four storm with winds reaching in excess of 217kph [EPA]

    In the middle of the Atlantic, Hurricane Julia has just been born.

    Atlantic storms are named in alphabetical order, alternating between male and female. So Julia, beginning with the tenth letter of the alphabet, is the tenth storm of the season.

    Five of them have had wind speeds of over 119km per hour (kph), which is strong enough to be classed as a hurricane.

    This year the Atlantic Hurricane Season has been pretty active. It is certainly more active than last year, when there were only nine named storms in the entire season.

    But it is by no means the most active season we have ever seen. The year 2005 was far worse; we actually ran out of alphabetical names and had to start with the Greek alphabet. 

    It was also the season which gave us catastrophic Hurricane Katrina.

    This year we have actually been quite lucky. Even though we have had plenty of storms, most of them have steered clear of land.

    Our newest hurricane, Julia, also looks like it should steer clear from land, but it is not the only hurricane in the Atlantic at the moment. The other storm is called Igor and this one is far stronger and causing far more concern.

    Very powerful hurricane

    The strength of a hurricane is measured using the Saffir-Simpson Scale, which rates storms from 1-5. Hurricanes rated five on the scale are the most destructive. With sustained winds of nearly 220kph, Hurricane Igor is category four - a very powerful hurricane.

    Its current track appears to be taking it straight towards Bermuda. If it makes a direct hit, this would be disastrous. Not only would it bring flooding rains and damaging winds, but also a storm surge, devastating for a small island with a highest point of just 76 metres.

    Fortunately there is time to prepare. Hurricanes actually move pretty slowly and even though the winds rotating within the storm are shooting past at nearly 220kph, the whole storm is moving forward at only 15kph.

    This means that the storm will not reach Bermuda until Sunday. There is time to take precautions - to board up windows and stock up on food and water.

    Of course, there is a chance that Igor may veer away and change its track. It may miss Bermuda altogether. However, with more storms developing every week, this will not be the last hurricane of the Atlantic Hurricane Season. And there is no guarantee we are going to stay lucky.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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