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    Kocet's Corner: Hurricane Season Shifts Gears

    By By John Kocet, Expert Senior Meteorologist
    August 03, 2011, 1:16:30 AM EDT

    Tropical Storm Don ran into the Texas coast Friday evening before rapidly dissipating as it tracked inland.

    The rain that did fall prior to dissipation was good for the parched ground, though the quick demise of the storm brought less rainfall than was anticipated.

    All tropical storms and hurricanes are products of heat energy stored in warm tropical waters. This energy is released into a developing storm through evaporation and then condensation. The warmer the sea surface, the greater the potential for heat to be liberated into the atmosphere.

    The warming that occurs through the interior of a developing tropical storm creates a temperature gradient between itself and the surrounding environment. This is reflected as a pressure gradient which is what drives the wind of the system. As long as this process remains uninterrupted by land masses, the storm either maintains its current strength or intensifies even more.

    The hurricane frequency graph above clearly shows that July is still a slow month then tropical formation really takes off in August.

    Why is this? One reason is that the heat stored in the oceans reaches a maximum from August into September.

    Another important factor is that mid-latitude westerly winds are less competitive in the tropics later in summer which means there is less chance of a storm's circulation being sheared apart.

    The stages of tropical development in order are wave, depression, storm and hurricane.

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