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Earth Science for Kids

Weather - Hurricanes (Tropical Cyclones)

What is a hurricane?

A hurricane is a large rotating storm with high speed winds that forms over warm waters in tropical areas. Hurricanes have sustained winds of at least 74 miles per hour and an area of low air pressure in the center called the eye.

Different Names for Hurricanes

The scientific name for a hurricane is a tropical cyclone. Tropical cyclones go by different names in different places. In North America and the Caribbean they are called "hurricanes", in the Indian Ocean they are called "cyclones", and in Southeast Asia they are called "typhoons."

How do hurricanes form?

Hurricanes form over the warm ocean water of the tropics. When warm moist air over the water rises, it is replaced by cooler air. The cooler air will then warm and start to rise. This cycle causes huge storm clouds to form. These storm clouds will begin to rotate with the spin of the Earth forming an organized system. If there is enough warm water, the cycle will continue and the storm clouds and wind speeds will grow causing a hurricane to form.

Parts of a Hurricane

The structure of a hurricane

Where do tropical cyclones occur?

Tropical cyclones occur over the ocean in areas near the equator. This is because there is plenty of warm water in these areas to allow the storms to form. There are seven major areas in the world that tend to produce tropical cyclones. See the map below.

Locations of tropical cyclones throughout the world

When do hurricanes occur?

Hurricanes that form in the Caribbean and the Atlantic Ocean occur between June 1st and November 30th each year. This is called hurricane season.

Why are hurricanes dangerous?

When hurricanes strike land they can cause huge amounts of damage. Most of the damage is caused by flooding and storm surge. Storm surge is when the ocean level rises at the coastline due to the power of the storm. Hurricanes also cause damage with high speed winds that can blow down trees and damage homes. Many hurricanes can develop several small tornados as well.

How are they named?

Hurricanes in the Atlantic are named based on a list of names maintained by the World Meteorological Organization. The names go in alphabetical order and the storms are named as they appear. So the first storm of the year will always have a name that starts with the letter "A." There are six lists of names and each year a new list is used.


Tropical cyclones are categorized according to the speed of sustained winds.
Interesting Facts about Hurricanes Activities

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Earth Science Subjects

Composition of the Earth
Plate Tectonics
Soil Science
The Water Cycle
Geology Glossary and Terms

Nutrient Cycles
Food Chain and Web
Carbon Cycle
Oxygen Cycle
Water Cycle
Nitrogen Cycle
Atmosphere and Weather
Dangerous Weather
Weather Forecasting
Weather Glossary and Terms

World Biomes
Biomes and Ecosystems
Tropical Rainforest
Temperate Forest
Taiga Forest
Coral Reef
Environmental Issues
Land Pollution
Air Pollution
Water Pollution
Ozone Layer
Global Warming

Renewable Energy Sources
Renewable Energy
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Geothermal Energy
Solar Power
Wave and Tidal Energy
Wind Power

Ocean Waves and Currents
Ocean Tides
Ice Age
Forest Fires
Phases of the Moon

Science >> Earth Science for Kids

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