Education

Why do hurricanes make landfall at night?

Boats anchored for safety in the Port of Beaumont thrash wildly as Hurricane Ike roars ashore in September, 2008. Enterprise file photo

ASKED & ANSWERED

Q: Why do all hurricanes seem to make landfall at night? I’d really like one to come in the middle of the day so there’s daylight to see what’s happening.

A: Rita came at 2:38 a.m., Humberto at 2 a.m. and Ike at 2:10 a.m.

It’s almost like the hurricanes got themselves sloppy drunk at the bar, which then closed at 2 a.m. These storms didn’t know what to do with themselves afterwards, so they plowed right into us.

That, however, is not at all scientific and mostly made up.

I can tell you that as an adrenaline junkie myself, I wouldn’t mind covering a storm’s landfall in the daylight. But, I don’t want to have to cover a storm anytime soon, so let’s go ahead and not wish that upon ourselves.

Jim Sweeney, a meteorologist with National Weather Service in Lake Charles, La., said storms generally strengthen at night because of what he called “latent heat release.”

It’s at night when the upper and middle part of the atmosphere cools (because the sun is not there to heat it up) and that releases energy in the storms, which turns into winds and moisture.

With the increased winds and moisture, storms become stronger, likely pushing them further along their paths toward land.

Sweeney said there’s no proven scientific correlation and mentioned that Katrina blew in seven years ago at 6:10 a.m.

Written by Amy Moore

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