Interested in extreme weather events? Then a hurricane—a swirling mass of wind, rain, thunder, and chaos—will intrigue you. Hurricanes begin over tropical and subtropical ocean water. They start when warm water, moist air, and strong winds collide and create a rotating bundle of thunderstorms and clouds. A hurricane might last a few hours or several days.

How Hurricanes Form

Some hurricanes roar onto land bringing punishing wind, torrential rain, walls of water, even tornados. The wind, rain, and water surge wreak havoc on the coastline and damage hundreds of miles inland.


Violent winds flip cars, sink boats, and rip houses apart. Hurricane winds range from 74 miles an hour to 150 ​miles an hour​ or more. Wind creates high waves and pushes the water onto shore. The water surge can be 30 feet high. That's as high as a 3-story building. Storm surges cause most of the fatalities and damage.


In addition to the storm surge, hurricanes bring rain. Lots of rain. In 2009, a storm hammered Taiwan with 114 inches of rain in only three days. Hurricane rains cause landslides, flash floods, and long-term floods.


Because meteorologists can predict and track hurricanes, people living in a hurricane's path can stay safe by advance preparation, including an evacuation plan, creating an emergency kit with food, water, and other supplies (don't forget your pets), and most importantly by listening to local authorities on the best ways to stay safe.


Hurricane Vocabulary



The eye can be 20-40 miles wide. In the eye, rather than dark clouds and rain, one might see blue sky or a starry night. It's known as the calm center of the storm.


The clouds that swirl around the eye have the most intense rain and winds, sometimes as fast as 200 miles an hour.


Rain bands

The rain and wind come in heavy bursts in this region and spiral in toward the eyewall. Rain bands are the outside areas of a storm and can be found as far as a few hundred miles from the eye.


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