Weather School: Hurricanes

AUGUSTA, GA (WFXG) - Hurricanes fall under a class of storms known as tropical cyclones. These systems are large rotating areas of low pressure hundreds of miles across with organized thunderstorms, but no fronts.

Tropical cyclones are classified by wind speed. Tropical depressions have wind speeds less than 39 miles per hour. Once the winds reach 39 miles per hour, a system is named as a tropical storm. Hurricanes have wind speeds between 74 and 200 miles per hour.

There are six different name lists for tropical storms and hurricanes that rotate each season. If a storm does significant damage, its name is retired and replaced with another.

Hurricanes form over warm ocean water of 80 degrees or higher. They gather heat and energy through evaporation of seawater. Warm air rises within the storm and flows out at the top of it. This encourages more air to rise, forming clouds and bands of rain and thunderstorms. These systems rotate counterclockwise and if well organized, an area of clear, calm weather, known as an eye, forms.

While wind can be a major factor, over half of all hurricane deaths come from water. Storm surge and inland flooding are especially dangerous.

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