Hurricanes

Over which type of geography do hurricanes begin to form?

And the answer: warm water.

Photo courtesy: Forbes.com

Hurricanes and typhoons are the same type of weather phenomenon known as tropical cyclones. The main ingredients include a pre-existing weather disturbance, warm tropical oceans, moisture, and relatively light winds. After forming, these massive storms tend to move to the west or northwest.

Tropical cyclones widely vary in intensity. The weakest form of cyclone is known as a tropical depression, or a storm whose winds are less than 39 miles per hour. Once the storm reaches that benchmark, it upgrades in severity to a tropical storm. One peg above that would classify it as a hurricane or typhoon (depending on where it is in the world), clocking in at over 74 mile per hour winds. In some parts of the world, such as the South Pacific and Indian Ocean, the term "tropical cyclone" is used interchangeably regardless of severity.

When a hurricane touches down on land, it can produce what's known as a storm surge. The strong winds and currents push ashore a wall of water, which can be highly dangerous for costal communities. Depending on the intensity of the given hurricane (storms can range from Category I, the least severe, to Category V), the storms usually entail rain bands, which are bands of stormy clouds that extend hundreds of miles from the hurricane's eye, or epicenter, as well as what's called an eye wall, which is a ring of thunderstorms. All in all, hurricanes and other tropical cyclones have the potential to cause widespread destruction to coastal cities and towns.

Did you know?

You can see hurricanes from space! In fact, NASA will often use its ideal vantage point to study the behavior of tropical storms and hurricanes. NASA scientists use data from satellites to learn more about the path and formation of these powerful phenomena. Learn more at NASA's Hurricanes and Tropical Storms website.


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