MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) – We are in the heart of hurricane season, and we have already seen several named storms. With tropical weather being a frequent occurrence along the Gulf Coast, you are probably wondering: How do these tropical systems form?

The key ingredients for the initial formation of the shower and thunderstorms within the tropical system are:

  • Sea surface water temperatures of at least 80°F.
  • Light upper level winds (limited wind shear).
  • A moist air mass near the surface.

The warm, moist air is less dense than the cooler, drier air further above the surface. The warm, moist air then rises, and this causes clouds to being to form as well as showers and thunderstorms. As the warm air continues to rise, air from outside the area rushes to replaces that air, and this creates a continuous rising motion that allows for more storms to develop.

Eventually, with large amounts of air quickly moving into the area from all directions, there is very strong upward motion. An area of low pressure will then begin to form at the surface with showers and storms rotating counterclockwise around the center.

These are just the initial ingredients and steps needed for the development of a hurricane and other tropical systems. In other videos, we will look at the different stages of tropical developments as they strengthen over time, and the different features that can inhibit tropical development including wind shear and dry air.