Q:

Where are hurricanes found?

A:

Quick Answer

Storms classified as hurricanes generally originate in the tropical latitudes of the northern Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean east of the International Date Line. Tropical cyclones west of the International Date Line in the northern Pacific are called typhoons, and those that originate in the Indian Ocean or southern Pacific Ocean are simply called cyclones.

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Full Answer

Hurricanes and other tropical cyclones tend to form in the tropical latitudes because these storms need access to warm, calm water to form. The warmth provided by these waters heats the air above the ocean's surface, causing it to rise. The rising air deposits clouds to the upper atmosphere and creates a low-pressure zone, and the air flowing into this depression triggers the rotation that creates a tropical cyclone.

Most hurricanes that form in the Atlantic Ocean track westward toward the Caribbean Sea, turning north at some point. They may work their way into the Gulf of Mexico and hit the southeastern Unites States, or they may travel up the eastern seaboard. In some cases, hurricanes can form in the Gulf of Mexico or western Caribbean Sea. Pacific hurricanes tend to form off the western coast of Mexico and travel either westward into the ocean or northwest up the coast toward California.

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    How often do hurricanes occur?

    A:

    According to NASA, approximately 85 hurricanes occur worldwide each year. Not all of these hurricanes are devastating; some of them appear to be ordinary storms for the most part and only develop into official hurricanes for a few short hours, whereas others can be considered full-force hurricanes for several weeks. In order to be considered an official hurricane, in addition to having an eye with low atmospheric pressure, the circulating wind speeds should exceed 74 miles per hour.

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    How do hurricanes move?

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    Hurricanes are blown around the planet by the prevailing global winds. When a hurricane forms in the Atlantic Ocean, it comes together in a band of winds called the trade winds, which blow east to west in the low latitudes. Once a hurricane approaches land, local weather conditions become a much larger factor in its movement. In particular, high pressure zones can stall or divert a hurricane from its path.

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    How big are hurricanes?

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    How are hurricanes, tornadoes and typhoons different?

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