Different regions call hurricanes by different names. In North America and the Caribbean, they are mostly known as hurricanes. But in Australia, they are known as “willy-willies.” No matter what we call them, they are very dangerous storms that affect tropical areas. These powerful storms can kill or injure people and destroy buildings by nearby coasts.
For a hurricane to form, the ocean has to be 80 degrees or warmer. The sun heats the humid air, which rises above the ocean as storm clouds begin to form. The biggest storm cloud sucks in air through its center. The air moves upward in a spiral motion. As long as the ocean stays warm, the clouds continue to suck air eventually forming a hurricane. The diameter of a hurricane can cover an area as big as the state of Texas. It can reach heights of nine miles; that's almost double the size of Mount Everest!
In the center of the hurricane is what is called the eye of the storm. The eye is the calm part of the hurricane and can be as wide as 18 miles. Here the wind speeds are low, there isn't much rain and the sky is clear. Surrounding the eye is the wall, which is significantly more dangerous. Wind speeds in the wall can reach up to 155 miles per hour.
Since 1979, meteorologists have been naming hurricanes. Each year they come up with a list of names that alternates between boy and girl names in a few different languages. The first hurricane of the year will start with an A, the next with B, and then C, and so on. For example, in 2005, the devastating hurricane Katrina hit southern Louisiana. That means that ten other hurricanes were formed and named by meteorologists before Katrina hit.
Hurricanes are very dangerous storms. They can form on hot, humid days, which are usually great days to swim in the ocean. So if you are ever near an ocean on a hot day and see storm clouds rolling in, you should get inside fast, because there could be a hurricane coming.
[Source: Scholastic Atlas of Weather]