Hurricanes - Weather Science answers questions
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What are Hurricanes?

A hurricane (also called a typhoon or a cyclone) is basically a huge wind. Hurricanes form in the summer and especially in the fall, because they can only form where there is cold air high over warm ocean water. Hurricanes form near the equator, because that's the only place where ocean water gets warm enough. But they don't form right at the equator, because the earth's rotation is what gets the wind spinning around, and it doesn't cause spinning right at the equator.

When the ocean is warm, the water heats the air right over the ocean, and some of the ocean's water evaporates into the air. This warm, wet air rises, because hot air rises. It makes thick, heavy clouds. The warm air rising pushes cold air higher up out sideways. If another wind is blowing on the rising warm air from the side, it can begin to spin around and around, picking up more and more air and water - that's when it starts to be a hurricane.

As long as the hurricane stays out in the ocean, usually it's not much of a problem. On land, the hurricane can't suck up any more water, so it soon gets weaker and stops. But when hurricanes first blow over the land, they bring high winds and often floods that destroy houses and schools along the coastlines.

Global warming from using cars and heating houses with gas and oil makes the ocean water a little warmer every year, so there are more and more hurricanes, and more serious ones. That's going to keep getting worse.

Global Warming
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Bibliography and further reading about hurricanes:

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Physics home

Hurricane emergency stuff - be prepared!

Super important to have - a tool for shutting off gas and water in a hurricane

Waterproof matches are also great in hurricanes

So useful for keeping in touch if the power goes out! A solar radio/cellphone charger

Professor Carr

Karen Eva Carr, PhD.
Assoc. Professor Emerita, History
Portland State University

Professor Carr holds a B.A. with high honors from Cornell University in classics and archaeology, and her M.A. and PhD. from the University of Michigan in Classical Art and Archaeology. She has excavated in Scotland, Cyprus, Greece, Israel, and Tunisia, and she has been teaching history to university students for a very long time.

Professor Carr's PSU page

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