Hurricanes have an average speed of 10-15 miles per hour but may go up to 60 miles per hour. This is the recorded speed on land; reports suggest that hurricanes are more intense while they are in the ocean. Why is this?

Hurricanes weaken when they hit land. This is because once the hurricane leaves the ocean, it also leaves behind the moisture and warmth that the ocean provides, which sustains its intensity. When the maintenance factors are cut off, the hurricane begins to decay. 

This article discusses some elements which strengthen hurricanes, explains whether hurricanes weaken on land, and provides tips for safety during hurricane season. 

Factors That Maintain The Strength Of A Hurricane

Let us discuss some of the main components that are required to strengthen and intensify a hurricane. These factors keep a hurricane from hurricane decay and keep it thriving. 

Sea Surface Temperature 

Hurricanes flourish in warm ocean waters, usually with temperatures exceeding 26.5 degrees Celsius (80 degrees Fahrenheit). The presence of warm water is essential for the storm to strengthen and sustain its strength. 

It helps in the evaporation of water, which fuels the storm’s convection process and the subsequent release of latent heat, further energizing the hurricane.

Moisture Content

Moisture is an essential component for hurricanes to maintain their strength. The presence of moisture in the atmosphere enables the formation of clouds and releases heat energy through condensation.

Moreover, moisture plays a crucial role in sustaining the convective processes within the storm, which further leads to powerful thunderstorms.

Atmospheric Stability

Hurricanes prefer an unstable atmosphere. This means that as air rises in the storm’s core, it continues to accelerate upwards, allowing for the development of strong updrafts. 

If the atmosphere is too stable, it restricts the vertical development of the storm and can weaken the hurricane as a result. 

Low Vertical Wind Shear 

Vertical wind shear is the fluctuation in wind speed and wind direction as the height of the hurricane changes. 

Hurricanes are only able to survive if the wind shear is vertical and low. High wind shear can disrupt the hurricane’s circulation, leading to weakening or even dissipation. 

Do Hurricanes Weaken When They Hit Land?

Yes, they do. All the factors that we discussed above are available to a hurricane while it is still in the ocean. As soon as it enters the territory of land, these factors are diminished, causing a sudden decrease in speed and intensity. 

Other factors, like the topography of the land where the hurricane hits, can also impact and weaken the hurricane. 

Factors That Impact How Weak A Hurricane Gets

We went over the maintenance components of a hurricane; these are the factors that fuel the hurricane and are mostly available to it when it is on the ocean. Let us look at some factors which determine the strength of the hurricane. 

These are the intensity and speed of the hurricane. The two vary across hurricanes and determine how quickly a hurricane would lose its strength. 


The first major factor that impacts how quickly hurricanes lose their strength upon contact with land is the size or intensity of the hurricane. Due to this, larger hurricanes with higher intensities can stay strong even after hitting land for a considerable amount of time. 

This is because the area of low pressure is bigger, and more warm air flows into the hurricane. This maintains the strength of the hurricane even on land.

However, this does not mean that larger hurricanes are not at all impacted by contact with the land; it is just that they are better able to retain some strength and adapt to the environment on land. 

Forward Speed

The next and most important factor that plays a role in how quickly a hurricane weakens is the forward speed of the hurricane. This is the rate at which it moves on its given path. A fast-moving hurricane tends to weaken sooner than a hurricane that has a low speed. 

This is because a rapid hurricane spends less time over the ocean and does not have enough exposure to the warmth of the ocean, the moisture, and the energy provided. Reduced exposure to warm water limits the hurricane’s ability to maintain its intensity, resulting in faster weakening. 

Moreover, a fast-moving hurricane experiences less interaction with the land and its topography, reducing the effects of friction and disruption of the storm’s circulation.

Hurricane Preparedness

Natural catastrophes can occur anywhere, at any moment, including your apartments. Particular areas are more vulnerable to natural disasters such as hurricanes. You must know how to prepare for storms near tropical or subtropical waters.

Evacuation Plans

After evaluating the security of your building, you must assess whether there is a need to evacuate. It would help if you had a plan to execute as soon as the government gives warning signals. 

While evacuating, carry your documents and essential gadgets with you. They need to be in a good state when you return. 

Security Within The Building

If you choose to stay, try moving to a place on a lower floor. The ground floor or basements are preferred. Once in this area, try to shelter in an area without windows. In an apartment building, you may find a space under a stairwell or in the hallway of the building. 

These places are more secure than being out in the open. These are the safest places during a hurricane. 

Emergency Kit

Create a bag that has all the necessary items you might need. These include food items, flashlights, water, documents, gadgets, a radio, sanitation supplies, and something for entertainment. 

Keep the bag with you wherever you choose to shelter out. Ensure there is ample non-perishable food to last you through the duration of the hurricane. 

Final Thoughts

While hurricanes get weaker over land, it is important to understand that they can still be very destructive. Hence, hurricane preparedness and safety measures are extremely important to ensure you and your loved ones are safe during the next hurricane season.