Chapter 37: Hurricanes

Thanks to the hubris and willful ignorance of the world’s population in general and more specifically, the society of the United States of America, we are going to have the opportunity to study more and larger hurricanes than ever before.

Since hurricanes are basically a thermal phenomenon and the planet Earth is definitely heating up, there will be more and greater hurricanes to study as time goes on. And that will be true even if we were to stop adding CO2 to the atmosphere right now. It doesn’t take a genius to see that the winters are getting warmer, that the world’s ice is melting at an alarming rate (everywhere!) or that the weather is becoming more violent. To steal a phrase from the greatest novelist of all time: “So it goes.”

Maybe we’ll get smart enough quickly enough to work our way out of this one. Or maybe Canada will get to cash in on the newly created beaches on their northern shore. I’m thinking about investing in the ‘Arctic Sands Casino’ which will be built in the new, polar bear free environment. Truly, in the summer the sun will never set on the action. Hubba, hubba.

For the greatest percentage of human history, not too much was known about hurricanes. This is not just because they are so complex (which, as we shall soon see, they are) but mostly because they are just so enormous.

Trying to study a hurricane without an aerial vantage point is much like trying to study the cause of the tides without the ability to see the moon. You can track what’s going on on the ground, but the controlling force will elude you since you can’t see the overall picture. Since hurricanes are both large (in diameter) and tall, they are difficult to fully comprehend even with the use of modern aircraft. To really study a hurricane and how it forms, grows and self organizes, one must have the advantage of satellite imagery.

And now that we do, we are beginning to understand them. Hurricanes form when a warm, low pressure storm cell organizes itself over warm water. This cannot happen over land because the land cannot give up heat quickly enough to sustain the stable air currents that sculpt the atmosphere into the characteristic hurricane shape.

Once a Tropical Depression wanders into an area where the ocean is warm, like the South Atlantic ocean, and the upper level winds are not too strong, it starts to swirl around its center. The reasons for this are unclear. Conventional wisdom says that it starts to swirl like that because of the rotation of the Earth and the Coriolis effect that it creates (Coriolis is another one of those ‘fictitious forces’ that is only evident in moving systems. We’ll talk more about it later.) but, as it is with tornados, the actual mechanics of the situation is unclear. What is clear is that the upward flow of energy, that is, the absorption of heat and water vapor by the storm, drives the system and allows it to become a stable, recognizable structure. Some diagrams have been collected and are shown below.

2008-03-10-hurricane-spin-speeds weather questing





The real driving portion of the system is the part that is closest to the surface of the ocean. As you can see from the diagrams, the normal convective environment, in which the heat and humidity rise straight up from the ocean is converted to a system that begins to swirl inward. As it does, the air (wind) becomes concentrated in the center. This concentrated air must have an outlet, so it is shunted in the only direction available, that is, up. But it doesn’t go straight up like it does in a strictly convective system, because it still has too much swirl (rotational inertia).  When the overall storm reaches a critical speed, it forms a stable core (eye) that has a minimum diameter, just like a drain vortex, but of course, this central core forms in the opposite direction in relation to the Earth since it’s being driven by rising air, instead of being driven directly by gravity. (It should be noted though, that warm air rises because of the presence of gravity, so really, all known natural vortex flow can be said to be gravity induced. This includes galaxies.)

So, in order to ‘vent’ its inrushing swirling warm air, the hurricane forms a high density air column around its center, which we call the eye wall. Even though this air is, by necessity, more dense, it is moving so fast at that point that it is actually creating a low pressure (unless you’re facing into the wind), a fact that is intensified by the rising, swirling column. The faster that this air moves, the lower the pressure at the center and hence, we measure the relative strength of the hurricane by the lowness of the pressure in the eye.

This sets up a very strange situation because, since the swirling winds have a minimum diameter in which they can operate, they can never be introduced into the core, which must therefore stay relatively calm. But the core is at a low pressure. Because of this, the hurricane actually induces a counter flow back down toward the surface of the earth, but only in the center, the eye. As you can see from the diagrams above, there is also another counter flow at the top of the system, where the eye wall winds have dissipated their energy and the air begins to rotate in the opposite direction (clockwise) and feed back toward the external boundaries of the system.

Technically speaking, if you could provide enough heat at the bottom, cooling at the top and could shield the system from other forces, a hurricane could exist as a stable, closed system indefinitely (like the red spot on Jupiter).

Of course there is a lot more to hurricanes than has been included here. It was not the intent to provide a definitive description of the phenomenon in this chapter (who could!), but rather to highlight the most important aspects of the structure and to illustrate that a hurricane exists in the Spiral Velocity Dimension, and that it is characterized by the rules that govern it.

So what are those features?

To begin with, there is a relatively planar spiral motion that exhibits an inverse logarithmic relationship between linear and rotational motion. In most natural phenomena, this is an inward spiral. Which is odd, since if you were paying attention only to the centrifugal forces, you would think that an unconstrained structure that increases in its rotational component as it moves inward would tend to fly apart, not concentrate.

As this motion is concentrated toward the center, and the rotational aspect of the motion increases, a stable core is formed. This core forms a concentrated ‘wall’ that translates circular motion back into linear motion, and induces counter flows into the system. The air surrounding this core is moving very fast and is therefore ‘hard’ and dense. In the case of a hurricane, it makes a definable boundary that we call a wall. Actually, this happens in all vortex systems, but this fact is generally not recognized and is not specifically named. This wall (or boundary) is a necessary feature of the system since it allows the continuation of the flow, and it gives the hurricane its volumetric character.

Although it may not seem so to us, a hurricane is a stable, self organizing system of energetic matter, which forms as a response to a thermal gradient (difference).

All vortex flow can be defined as a transfer of circular motion to linear motion that is driven by some sort of linear potential difference that is out of the plane of the circular motion.

Although the orbit of the Earth around the Sun is also a spiral velocity, it is more of a slow motion, special case in which the driving force (gravity) is countered by the engendered force (centripetal) to form a relatively stable feature that does not collapse or draw in quickly. Given enough time, the Earth, as it slows down (as it must) would eventually fall into the Sun, but that is by far the least of our worries.

There is a lot more that could be said about this subject, but the important points have been made and there are a few topics related to this phenomenon that need to be discussed. We’ll touch on them, and talk more about the general characteristics of the Spiral Dimension in the following chapter.

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