Hurricane Facts

A hurricane, also known as a tropical cyclone is a circular air movement over the warm ocean waters in the warm part of Earth near the equator. Most hurricanes create strong winds and heavy rains. While some hurricanes stay out in the sea, others pass over land, which can be dangerous because they can cause a lot of damage. See the fact file below for more information about hurricanes.
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  • Hurricanes are very large, spiralling tropical storms that can pack wind speeds of over 160 miles an hour. They can unleash more than 2.4 trillion gallons of rain a day.
  • These same tropical storms are known as cyclones in the northern Indian Ocean and typhoons in the western Pacific Ocean.
  • The Atlantic Ocean’s hurricane season occurs from mid-August to late October and averages five to six hurricanes per year. Better technology allows scientists to track the storm and predict its path. Warnings can be given to residents so they can prepare their property for the storm and/or evacuate the area.
  • When hurricanes come onto land, the heavy rain, strong winds and heavy waves can damage buildings, trees and cars. The heavy waves are called a storm surge. Once a hurricane moves onto the land it begins to lose energy.
  • Hurricanes rotate in a counter-clockwise direction around the eye. The eye of the hurricane is a calm area, however, the rotating storm clouds create the “eyewall”, which is the most destructive part of the storm.
  • The difference between a tropical storm and a hurricane is wind speed. Tropical storms usually have winds of 36-47 miles per hour. Hurricane wind speeds are over 74 miles per hour.
  • Hurricanes are classified into five categories, based on their wind speeds and potential to cause damage.
    • Category One — Winds 74-95 miles per hour
    • Category Two — Winds 96-110 miles per hour
    • Category Three — Winds 111-130 miles per hour
    • Category Four — Winds 131-155 miles per hour
    • Category Five — Winds greater than 155 miles per hour
  • Hurricanes are named to help us identify and track them as they move across the ocean. For Atlantic Ocean hurricanes, the names may be French, Spanish or English, since these are the major languages bordering the Atlantic Ocean where the storms occur. Sometimes names are “retired” if a hurricane has been really big and destructive. Retired names include Katrina, Andrew and Mitch.
  • Hurricane Andrew, a Category 5 storm that hit Southeast Florida and Louisiana in August of 1992. Andrew cost the U.S. $26.5 billion.
  • A Category 4 storm hit the island city of Galveston, Texas, on September 8th, 1900. Approximately 8,000 people lost their lives when the island was destroyed by 15-foot waves and 130-mile-an-hour winds. This is considered the deadliest U.S. hurricane.