Q:

What causes hurricanes?

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Quick Answer

Hurricanes are formed by rain clouds that grow over warm ocean waters. The clouds build to create wind speeds higher than 74 miles per hour. While tornadoes can attack without warning, hurricanes form over a period of days.

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Full Answer

The strength of a hurricane and its ranking on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale are determined by the storm's speed. The most dangerous kind of hurricane is a Category 5, which causes winds greater than 157 miles per hour. The storm surge of a hurricane is the most devastating part because a water wall that is 100 miles wide and 15 feet deep covers the coastline once the hurricane hits.

From June 1 to November 30, the Atlantic hurricane season is the period of the most dangerous storms that threaten the United States. The storms usually cause damage in the southeastern United States, Gulf of Mexico coastlines and Caribbean region. In the middle of May, the East Pacific hurricane season begins, and storms wreak havoc from Hawaii to western Mexico. Stretching from Florida and eastern Texas to the northeastern United States is an area known as Hurricane Alley. Hurricanes are given names in alphabetical order and change between male and female names. All letters are used except Q, U, X, Y and Z.

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Related Questions

  • Q:

    Why do we have hurricanes?

    A:

    Hurricanes form over warm ocean water when the air is cooler above. Winds must be at the surface of the ocean and spiral air inward for the hurricane to form.

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  • Q:

    How do cyclones happen?

    A:

    Tropical cyclones form when ambient atmospheric conditions are ripe for storm development, which includes warm ocean waters, moist mid-tropospheric layers, proximity to the equator and the presence of a pre-existing atmospheric disturbance. Humidity, adequate ocean water temperatures and strong winds all help to make cyclones form, but these elements must converge to allow storms to take shape. After forming, cyclones develop an organized inner core, which is surrounded by a circular mass that spins.

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    What happens when a hurricane hits land?

    A:

    When a hurricane hits land, it starts to lose speed and energy as it loses its source of both from the warm ocean waters. The further the hurricane gets over land, the faster the storm dissipates.

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    How are typhoons made?

    A:

    Tropical cyclones, including hurricanes and typhoons, form when calm, warm ocean waters set up a spiraling convection current in the air above the surface. As warm, moist air rises, cooler air moves in to replace it, creating a rotation that eventually builds into a powerful cyclone.

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