by Roy W. Spencer, Ph. D.
Mother Nature routinely deals with huge amounts of energy. In the case of hurricanes, some of the solar energy stored in the upper ocean is rapidly removed by strong winds in the form of evaporated water vapor, which then feeds the hurricane as the vapor condenses into rain and the “latent heat of condensation” is released.
That heating causes the warm core of the hurricane, creating the “eye” and producing the strong winds circling the eye. The rain itself falls back to the surface, and in the coming week eastern Texas will no doubt be dealing with one of the worst flooding disasters on record with 1 to 3 feet of rain.
The amount of energy released in such a storm is staggering. It can be computed that the average hurricane releases the energy equivalent of 10 Hiroshima-class bombs every second.
That’s approximately 1 million atomic bombs per day. Given Harvey’s size and intensity, I suspect the real number is even larger.