- Hurricanes are large, spiraling tropical storms that can pack wind speeds of over 160 miles an hour and unleash more than 2.4 trillion gallons of rain a day.
- These tropical storms are known as cyclones in the northern Indian Ocean and Bay of Bengal, and as typhoons in the western Pacific Ocean.
- In the Atlantic, hurricane season starts June 1, while in the Pacific it starts May 15. Both end on November 30.
- When they come onto land, the heavy rain, strong winds and heavy waves can damage buildings, trees and cars. The heavy waves are called a storm surge.
- 40 percent of the hurricanes that occur in the United States hit Florida.
- Hurricanes rotate in a counter-clockwise direction around the eye. The rotating storm clouds create the "eye wall”, which is the most destructive part of the storm.
- The difference between a tropical storm and a hurricane is wind speed – tropical storms usually bring winds of 36-47 miles per hour, whereas hurricane wind speeds are at least 74 miles per hour.
- Hurricanes are classified into five categories, based on their wind speeds and potential to cause damage.
- Category One -- Winds 74-95 miles per hour
- Category Two -- Winds 96-110 miles per hour
- Category Three -- Winds 111-130 miles per hour
- Category Four -- Winds 131-155 miles per hour
- Category Five -- Winds greater than 155 miles per hour
- When the National Hurricane Center began giving official names to storms in 1953, they were all female. This practice of using only women’s names ended in 1978.
- Sometimes names are "retired" if a hurricane has been really big and destructive. Retired names include Katrina, Andrew and Mitch.
- The costliest hurricane to make landfall was Hurricane Katrina, a Category 5 storm that slammed Louisiana in August of 2005. Damages cost an estimated $91 billion.
- The deadliest U.S. hurricane on record was a Category 4 storm that hit the island city of Galveston, Texas, on Sept. 8, 1900. Some 8,000 people lost their lives when the island was destroyed by 15-foot waves and 130-mile-an-hour winds.
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Sources: Accuweather.com, National Geographic, Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory, FEMA, National Hurricane Center