Do Hurricanes Form Over Land? (Full Guide)

do hurricanes form over land

In this post, we are going to take a closer look at hurricanes and how they form, and specifically answer do hurricanes form on land?

Hurricanes are very large and violent storms, the most violent on earth in fact. These intense storms are known by other names such as Typhoons and Cyclones but are all the same type.

The actual scientific name for these storms is Tropical Cyclones because they use warm, moist air which rises and forms low pressure below.

Let’s take a closer look…

Do Hurricanes Actually Form Over Land?

So, do hurricanes form over land? very rarely, almost never. Hurricanes only form over warm tropical regions where the ocean is at least 80℉.

Due to the fact that hurricanes need warm water to survive, the chances of them forming over land are incredibly slim.

In fact, only 2% of all Atlantic tropical cyclones have formed over land since 1851 – 2015.

Hurricanes are like an engine that uses warm, tropical air and low pressure to whip up, they are only formed near the equator as the waters here are warmest.

The Atlantic Ocean, Pacific Ocean, Gulf of Mexico, and Hawaiin Islands are the most common places for hurricanes to form and are also the most vulnerable to being hit.

How Do Hurricanes Form?

Hurricanes are formed by the warm waters from tropical oceans evaporating, which causes warm, moist air to rise, combine this with wind and you’ve got a hurricane whipping up.

Many hurricanes that are formed in the United States are caused by winds blowing west from Africa.

This wind causes even more of the warm water to evaporate into the air, the air then rises high into the atmosphere where it begins to cool.

The water then condenses back into liquid water droplets, these droplets cause clouds, the big nasty type that is often seen with large storms and hurricanes.

As the warm air continues rising upwards, the winds begin blowing in a circular pattern around the center.

The spiraling winds gather up a cluster of big thunderstorm clouds, and once the winds reach 74mph, it is officially a hurricane.

Hurricanes are HUGE, they can be 10 miles high and 1000 miles across.

Once the hurricane is formed and starts to move over land, it loses power as it now doesn’t have the fuel from the tropical waters that it needs to thrive.

However, even in this weakened state, a hurricane can still cause catastrophic damage to communities on the coast and be incredibly dangerous.

The good news is that we do have some sophisticated technology in the form of weather satellites that are constantly monitoring the conditions.

These satellites are scanning the hemisphere every 10 minutes in order to keep a lookout for any incoming hurricanes or storms that are starting to form.

Once the hurricane forms, the satellites can help monitor the storm and predict its intensity minute by minute.

This allows early warnings to be triggered and ensures that as many people evacuate the area as possible, saving countless lives.

Which Hurricanes Have Formed Over Land?

Although hurricanes forming over land are rare, there have been some that have formed in the past.

Many hurricanes are formed mere miles off the coastlines, especially in the likes of Florida where they have a long coastline.

Here are some hurricanes which have formed over land in the past:

  • Hurricane Leslie – 2000, this hurricane formed as a subtropical depression near DeLand in Florida.
  • Hurricane Clara – 1977, this hurricane formed near Charleston, South Carolina.
  • Hurricane Amelia – 1978, this hurricane formed just east of Brownsville, Texas, while in the Gulf of Mexico, it intensified as it moved inland in Southern Texas near the coast.

Is It Rare For Hurricanes To Form Over Land?

Yes, it is rare for hurricanes to form over land. This is because hurricanes need warm, tropical waters in order to form.

As mentioned earlier, only 2% of all Atlantic Tropical Cyclones form over land. It doesn’t happen often simply due to the fact that the tropical air acts as fuel for the hurricane.

Although it’s rare for hurricanes to form over land, it does sometimes happen, just like in the cases above.

It’s rare because a hurricane needs warm air to survive, which makes it difficult for them to form over land where the warm sea air is not present.

Hurricanes weaken significantly when they reach land, but due to their size and nature, they can still wreak havoc even without the powerful sea air fuelling it.

Hurricane season is between June 1st and November 30th, they can occur at any time in the year but in season is when they are most likely to form.

Between these months the ocean water is warmest and the conditions are perfect for hurricanes to form, making the coastal areas much more dangerous to visit during this period.

What Happens When A Hurricane Hits Land?

Even though hurricanes are significantly weakened when they reach land, the devastation they cause is still usually immense.

These are the most violent storms on the planet, so when they hit land they bring with them many inches of rain and strong winds that are powerful enough to blow houses down.

Often when hurricanes hit coastlines, villages are flooded and swamped by water damage. Not only that but the damage from the strong winds can be devastating.

The hurricane will also cause large waves, which can damage roads, erode beaches, and cause many people living in the area to evacuate.

When a hurricane hits land, it pushes a wall of ocean waters ashore, which causes a lot of damage in the area it hits.

How Long Do Hurricanes Last On Land?

Although hurricanes are not being fuelled by the warm, tropical waters that they need to thrive, they can still last anywhere between a few hours to 24 hours.

This is more than enough time for the hurricane to cause millions of pounds of damage and put many people’s lives in danger.

This is why it is so crucial for our space satellites to be able to detect and warn civilians about a hurricane forming early in advance so that people living in the area can evacuate.

Thankfully when hurricanes hit land they do decrease significantly in power, largely because of the added friction from the land surface resisting the wind.

A study found that hurricanes were likely to decrease in power by 75% within 24 hours after moving inland.

Final Thoughts

So, do hurricanes form over land? Very rarely, around 2% of the time.

These incredibly powerful tropical storms thrive from the warm sea air, and when they reach land their power starts to fade quickly.

That being said, they can often still survive for hours before they eventually fade out, and even in their weakened state can still cause a lot of destruction whilst on their path.

Hopefully, this post has been insightful into hurricanes over land, and you’ve learned a thing or two about these immense storms in this post.

If you have enjoyed this post, feel free to stick around and learn more about extreme weather and natural phenomenon.

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