What is a hurricane?

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A hurricane is a type of storm called a tropical cyclone, which forms over tropical or subtropical waters.

A tropical cyclone is a rapidly rotating storm system characterized by a low-pressure center, a closed low-level atmospheric circulation, strong winds, and a spiral arrangement of thunderstorms that produce heavy rain. “Cyclone” refers to their winds moving in a circle, whirling round their central clear eye, with their winds blowing counterclockwise in the Northern Hemisphere and clockwise in the Southern Hemisphere.

For a tropical storm to be deemed a hurricane, it must have sustained winds of 74mph or higher. Hurricanes are then given a category based on this maximum sustained wind of one to five (1-5). The higher the category, the greater the hurricane’s potential for property damage.

Hurricanes originate in the Atlantic basin (which includes the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, and Gulf of Mexico), the eastern North Pacific Ocean, and, less frequently, the central North Pacific Ocean.

Coastal regions are particularly vulnerable to the impact of a tropical cyclone, compared to inland regions. The primary energy source for these storms is warm ocean waters, therefore these forms are typically strongest when over or near water, and weaken quite rapidly over land.

“Hurricane Season” begins on June 1 and ends on November 30, although hurricanes can, and have, occurred outside of this time frame.

Citation: National Ocean Service, Wikipedia

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