Home / Top 91 Questions People Ask About Hurricanes

A: The National Ocean Service predicts about 12 hurricanes per year. There has been an uptick in storms, however. In 2020, there were 30 such storms, a record high. And not only are storms more frequent, but they are becoming more intense. As sea levels rise and ocean temperatures warm, tempests lime these are likely to be more common and more forceful in the future.

A: Yes, but depending on where the storm forms, it may have a different name. The type of storm that qualifies as hurricanes occur all across the planet, but they are given other titles based on where they occur. In the North Atlantic Ocean or East Pacific Ocean, such a storm is a hurricane. In the western North Pacific and Philippines, the storm is a typhoon. In the Indian Ocean and South Pacific Ocean, the storm is a cyclone.

A: Theoretically, yes, such a storm could cause a tsunami to form. Researchers at the US Naval Research Laboratory at the Stennis Space Center in Mississippi think that hurricanes can pile up sediment underwater that could then slip, causing a tsunami.

A: Technically, yes, but this is very rare. Because storms like these need warm water to survive, the chances of such a storm forming over dry land are extremely rare. Between 1851 and 2015, only 2% of hurricanes formed over land.

A: Yes. When such a storm reaches landfall, it can cause immense storms to occur over land, including tornado wind storms.


A: No, you cannot nuke a hurricane, and it would be extremely foolish to fire a nuclear warhead at any kind of major weather event. Not only would the warhead be ineffective in stopping the storm, but the winds from the weather event would disperse the nuclear radiation further out than normal, causing wider and more devastating radiation fallout.

A: Yes and no. While it is true that there has never been a documented case of a hurricane making landfall in California, the Golden State has had its share of close calls with tropical cyclones. Research indicates that California has been affected by at least a few tropical cyclones every decade since 1900. But there is nothing on record of an actual hurricane making landfall in California, just immense storms, rain, and high winds hitting California from tropical cyclones further out in the Pacific Ocean.

A: Aruba is south of the hurricane belt, making direct hits from such storms rare. The last serious storm to touch the island was Hurricane Felix in 2007. It was a CAT 2 weather event at the time and caused minor damage.

A: Though Costa Rica is in the Caribbean, because it is so far south, a storm of this magnitude rarely makes landfall over Costa Rica.

A: They are very rare. Because of Hawaii's location, hurricanes don't make landfall in Hawaii or even make it into Hawaiian waters very often. Since recording began, only two such storms have made landfall in Hawaii. These were Hurricane Iniki in 1992 and Hurricane Dot in 1959.

A: Hurricane season begins on June 1st and ends on November 30th (though such storms have occurred outside of this time frame).

A: Yes! This is called the Fujiwhara effect. When two storms get within 900 miles of each other, they can start to orbit. If they get within 190 miles of each other, they'll collide and merge. This phenomenon is rare, with the only recorded instances of a Fujiwhara Effect occurring in 1933 and 1959.

A: The World Meteorological Association selects names from a list of male and female names used on a six-year rotation basis. There are six lists (for the six-year rotation), with 21 names on the list for the Atlantic storms and 24 names on the list for the Pacific hurricanes. If there are more than 21 Atlantic hurricanes or 24 Pacific storms, the World Meteorological Association switches to names from the Greek alphabet (starting with Alpha and going down to Omega).

A: They are alike in that both storms involve cylindrical, vertical, circulating forces of massive wind speed and wind pressure that can move across the surface of the ocean or land.

A: Such storms are classified and measured using the "CAT" system. "CAT" stands for "Category." The CAT system refers to the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale. The scale's purpose is to rate a hurricane based on its maximum sustained wind speed. The scale is an accurate predictor of the force and severity of such a tempest. However, the scale does not consider storm surges, rainfall, flooding, and potential tornadoes.

A: Changes in air pressure and temperature cause hurricanes. The storm often starts as a tropical wave (a tropical wave is a low-pressure area that moves through the moisture-rich tropics). The tropical wave sucks heat up from the warm waters of the ocean's surface. As the warm ocean air rises into the storm, that forms low pressure underneath the storm. More air rushes in to fill the low pressure; the air rises and cools, forming clouds and thunderstorms up high.The cycle repeats, building pressure and wind speed all the while. The storm system rotates, pulling more energy from the warm water and adding pressure to the storm.

A: It's all in the wind pressure and speed, as well as certain oceanic factors that occur under the surface. Such a storm is a huge weather event. There isn't anything quite like it, which makes it relatively easy to predict. These storms gather heat and energy as they come into contact with warm ocean waters. The winds of the storm spiral inward and upward at speeds of 70 to 200 mph, with the potential of causing immense destruction to virtually all man-made objects in its wake. The tempests usually last about one day to one week, moving 10 to 20 miles per hour over the open ocean.

A: Most hurricanes are about 300 miles wide, but they can vary considerably in size. The eye of the storm is usually about 20 to 40 miles in diameter.

A: The storm looks like a massive, turning storm cloud with an "eye" in the center. It is a huge storm system that begins over the ocean and moves across the ocean, sometimes making landfall. This complex weather event is a combination of churning, rotating wind that is moving at very high speeds. Such a storm will also have rain, thunder, and sometimes lightning.

A: The CAT system measures the winds. Consider the following information regarding relative wind speed:

  • A CAT 1 storm system has sustained winds of 74 to 95 miles per hour. There will be some very dangerous winds which can produce some damage to homes.
  • A CAT 2 storm system has sustained winds of 96 to 110 miles per hour. There will be extremely dangerous winds and extensive damage to homes.
  • A CAT 3 storm system has sustained winds of 111 to 129 miles per hour. This tempest is sure to cause devastating damage, including removing roofs of homes and damaging electricity and water infrastructure.
  • A CAT 4 storm system has sustained winds of 130 to 156 miles per hour. Such a storm is officially catastrophic, likely to level homes and completely bring down power lines and trees. Most residential areas struck by a CAT 4 weather event are uninhabitable for weeks.
  • A CAT 5 tempest has sustained winds of 157 miles per hour or higher. Most homes in the path of such a storm will be destroyed, basic infrastructure in terms of water, electricity, and road networks will be wiped out, rendering the area uninhabitable for months.

A: These storms involve rapid circular wind (74 mph to 157 mph or more), but their forward movement is quite slow. Once this type of storm reaches land, it will move forward at a speed of about 10 to 20 mph.

A: The primary difference between a tornado and a hurricane is that a tornado forms over land, always, and a hurricane almost always forms over the ocean (though this type of storm can move towards land and it can very rarely form over land).

A: This depends entirely on the storm. Some last only a day, but some can last as long as a month, as Hurricane John did in 1994 when it traveled 8,100 miles over 31 days.

A: It varies. The season officially begins on June 1st and officially ends on November 30th. But dangerous storms have occurred outside this time frame on multiple occasions.

A: The season in Florida lasts for about five months. Along the Florida peninsula, the peak months for such storms are August and September.

A: There are five categories of severe weather events of this type, as delineated by the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale (CAT Scale). The five categories are differentiated from each other based on the wind speed of the storm.

A: Each year, there are an average of 10 tropical storms (of which six become hurricanes) in the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, or the Gulf of Mexico. This is just the average, though. There has been a recent uptick in storms. For example, in 2020, there were 30 hurricanes, a record high.

A: The best course of action in the face of a storm like this is to evacuate. Most U.S. cities and states are given plenty of warning before a hurricane makes landfall, sometimes even several days of notice. This should be enough time to leave the area.

A: Stay away from low-lying and flood-prone areas. Always stay indoors during a storm. If you live in a mobile home, seek shelter in a more stable building. If your home is in a low-lying or flood-prone area, go to a shelter. Do not come out until you know the storm is over. You may experience a moment of calm weather, but that could be because you are in the eye of the storm!

A: In many ways, surviving a storm as serious as this once comes down to a simple exercise of caution. For example, stay indoors until it is safe to come out. Check for injured or trapped people, but do not put yourself at risk. Always be mindful that flooding can occur even after a serious storm has passed. Do not attempt to drive through flooding water and stay away from standing water, as it may be electrically charged from underground or downed power lines.

A: No. Quoting the National Ocean Service, "Tropical cyclones with maximum sustained surface winds of less than 39 miles per hour (mph) are called tropical depressions. Those with maximum sustained winds of 39 mph or higher are called tropical storms. When a storm's maximum sustained winds reach 74 mph, it is called a hurricane."

A: Yes! The eye of such a storm is usually quite calm.

A: Hurricane force winds are any wind speeds that are fast enough to qualify as hurricane wind. A wind warning is issued for this type of storm when wind speeds of 74 mph or greater are either being observed or are predicted to occur.

A: Storms in the Pacific Ocean are given different names depending on where they occur in the Pacific Ocean. In the Northeast Pacific, they are called hurricanes. In the Northwest Pacific, they are called typhoons. In the South Pacific, they are called cyclones.

A: Other names for a hurricane include cyclone and typhoon.

A: The categories of the storms are delineated on a scale of one through five on the "CAT" scale. The scale's purpose is to rate a storm based on its maximum sustained wind speed. The scale is an accurate predictor of the force and severity of a hurricane. However, the scale does not consider storm surges, rainfall, flooding, and potential tornadoes, all of which are potential, additional hazards that can cause serious damage.

A: These storms are often immensely strong and fierce by the time they reach landfall. When a serious tempest reaches a coastal area, it can bring with it heavy rains, high winds, storm surges (storm surges are momentarily high sea levels), and even tornadoes. Between heavy rains and storm surges, flooding can ensue. And with high winds, buildings, cars, power lines, and other infrastructure can become damaged or destroyed.

A: Hurricanes that occur in the Northern Hemisphere always spin counterclockwise, whereas the same types of storms that occur in the Southern Hemisphere always spin clockwise.

A: There are a few ingredients needed to form a storm like this one. Changes in air pressure and temperature cause the weather event to begin. The storm often starts as a tropical wave (a tropical wave is a low-pressure area that moves through the moisture-rich tropics). The tropical wave sucks heat up from the warm waters of the ocean's surface. As the warm ocean air rises into the storm, that forms low pressure underneath the storm. More air rushes in to fill the low pressure; the air rises and cools, forming clouds and thunderstorms up high. This cycle repeats, building pressure and wind speed all the while. The storm system rotates as all of this occurs, further pulling more energy from the warm water and adding pressure to the storm.

A: The word "hurricane" comes from the Taino Native American word, "hurucane," meaning "God of the storm."

A: The heat energy caused by warm surface water and air pressure acts as the fuel for the storm, causing it to build up.

A: When two hurricanes collide, they merge and become one storm system.

A: When a hurricane makes landfall, it immediately begins to lose energy because it does not have the warm ocean water from which it receives most of its energy. However, the storms are still immensely powerful when they reach land and can cause massive destruction to coastal areas. That's why coastal residents should evacuate if such a storm is headed their way.

A: A CAT 1 weather event has sustained winds of 74 to 95 miles per hour. There will be some very dangerous winds which can produce some damage to homes.

A: A CAT 2 weather event has sustained winds of 96 to 110 miles per hour. There will be extremely dangerous winds and extensive damage to homes.

A: A CAT 3 weather event has sustained winds of 111 to 129 miles per hour. This hurricane is sure to cause devastating damage, including removing roofs of homes and damaging electricity and water infrastructure.

A: A CAT 4 weather event has sustained winds of 130 to 156 miles per hour. Such a storm is officially catastrophic, likely to level homes and completely bring down power lines and trees. Most residential areas struck by a CAT 4 hurricane are uninhabitable for weeks.

A: A CAT 5 weather event has sustained winds of 157 miles per hour or higher. Most homes in the path of such a storm will be destroyed, basic infrastructure in terms of water, electricity, and road networks will be wiped out, rendering the area uninhabitable for months.

A: A "crossfire hurricane" actually has nothing to do with a hurricane. Rather, "Crossfire Hurricane" was the codename given to the counterintelligence FBI investigation undertaken to examine links between Russian officials and associates of Donald Trump, concerning alleged efforts by the Russian government to interfere with the 2016 presidential election.

A: A hurricane watch means that the conditions which could form a severe weather event are possible. A “Watch” is one step below a “Warning” in terms of severity.

A: A hurricane warning means that hurricane conditions are expected to occur. Individuals living in the path of the expected storm system should evacuate or take cover as quickly as possible (depending on their unique circumstances).

A: A "land hurricane" is another name for a "Derecho." The National Weather Service defines a derecho as such, "A derecho (pronounced similar to 'deh-REY-cho') is a widespread, long-lived wind storm that is associated with a band of rapidly moving showers or thunderstorms. As a result, the term 'straight-line wind damage' sometimes is used to describe derecho damage."

A: An "inland hurricane" is another name for a "Derecho." The National Weather Service defines a derecho as, "A derecho (pronounced similar to 'deh-REY-cho') is a widespread, long-lived wind storm that is associated with a band of rapidly moving showers or thunderstorms.... As a result, the term 'straight-line wind damage' sometimes is used to describe derecho damage."

A: Storm surges are momentarily high sea levels that occur as a result of severe weather. They can cause floods and serious damage to coastal areas.

A: The center of the storm is iconic. It is an area of sinking air, called the "eye of the storm" or the "inner core" of the storm. The eye is circular in shape and can range from 2 miles in diameter to 230 miles in diameter.

A: The "dirty side" of the storm refers to the storm's right side. It's also called "the bad side." It is named as such because it is generally the more dangerous side of the storm system.

A: The eye of a storm refers to the relatively calm center of the weather event.

A: Any area within a storm of this magnitude can be dangerous, even the storm's eye. But generally speaking, the right side of the storm is more dangerous than the left.

A: It's not easy to fight a storm of this nature, no matter how tough you are. The best course of action in the face of a severe weather event such as this is to evacuate. Most U.S. cities and states are given plenty of warning before a hurricane makes landfall, sometimes even several days of notice. If emergency managers say to evacuate, do so immediately. If the storm strikes and you were not able to evacuate, take shelter in the nearest sturdy building (avoid mobile homes, trailers, and sheds).

A: Wind speeds during such a storm begin at 74 mph and can go all the way up to 157 mph or more.

A: It's all about geography! Or, in this case, the oceanography! The type of storm that qualifies as hurricanes occur all across the planet, but they are given different titles based on where they occur. In the North Atlantic Ocean or East Pacific Ocean, such a storm is a hurricane. In the western North Pacific and Philippines, the storm is a typhoon. In the Indian Ocean and South Pacific Ocean, the storm is a cyclone.

A: It's all about geography! Or, in this case, the oceanography! The type of storm that qualifies as hurricanes occur all across the planet, but they are given different titles based on where they occur. In the North Atlantic Ocean or East Pacific Ocean, such a storm is a hurricane. In the western North Pacific and Philippines, the storm is a typhoon. In the Indian Ocean and South Pacific Ocean, the storm is a cyclone.

A: The storms are somewhat similar, but a tornado occurs on land whereas a hurricane occurs over the ocean (though hurricanes can approach and even come on to land).

A: It's all about geography! Or, in this case, the oceanography! The type of storm that qualifies as hurricanes occur all across the planet, but they are given different titles based on where they occur. In the North Atlantic Ocean or East Pacific Ocean, such a storm is a hurricane. In the western North Pacific and Philippines, the storm is a typhoon. In the Indian Ocean and South Pacific Ocean, the storm is a cyclone.

A: The season technically begins on June 1st (though storms of this nature can occur earlier in the year than June 1st).

A: The season ends on November 30th (though storms of this nature have occurred after November 30th before).

A: These storms rarely strike Hawaii, but the season for them begins on June 1st and ends on November 30th (though such storms have occurred outside of this time frame).

A: The season in Louisiana begins on June 1st and ends on November 30th (though storms of this nature have occurred outside of this time frame).

A: The season in Mexico begins on June 1st and ends on November 30th (though storms of this nature have occurred outside of this time frame).

A: The season in Miami begins on June 1st and ends on November 30th (though storms of this nature have occurred outside of this time frame).

A: The season in NC begins on June 1st and ends on November 30th (though storms of this nature have occurred outside of this time frame).

A: The season in New Orleans begins on June 1st and ends on November 30th (though storms of this nature have occurred outside of this time frame).

A: The season in Puerto Rico begins on June 1st and ends on November 30th (though storms of this nature have occurred outside of this time frame).

A: The season in South Carolina begins on June 1st and ends on November 30th (though storms of this nature have occurred outside of this time frame).

A: The season in Texas begins on June 1st and ends on November 30th (though storms of this nature have occurred outside of this time frame).

A: The season in the Gulf of Mexico begins on June 1st and ends on November 30th (though storms of this nature have occurred outside of this time frame).

A: The season in the United States begins on June 1st and ends on November 30th (though storms of this nature have occurred outside of this time frame).

A: The storm season officially ends on November 30th. Though they are rare, hurricane weather events do sometimes occur after November 30th.

A: The season officially ends in Florida on November 30th. Though they are rare, storms of this nature do sometimes occur in Florida after November 30th.

A: Peak season occurs in August and September.

A: The Atlantic season runs from June 1st to November 30th.

A: The most violent storms on Earth, these storms form near the equator over warm ocean waters. Such weather events can occur in any ocean, though they almost always form near the equator (due to the warmer water found there).

A: Hurricanes are most common in the Western Pacific, such as the Philippines, Guam, Southeast Asia (including China and Taiwan), and Japan. As for the U.S., the states most often hit by hurricanes are Florida, Texas, North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana. Sometimes hurricanes make it further north up the East Coast, but they are rare.

A: The strongest winds in a hurricane are in the "eyewall," which is the area of circulating wind immediately outside the eye of the storm. Even more specifically, the eyewall of the right quadrant of the storm cell is where the strongest winds will be found.

A: Birds usually hunker down before a storm as serious as this one. They rarely try to fly through one. Most bird species can respond to infrasound and barometric pressure changes that warn them of a coming storm. A sudden, mass migration of birds away from the coast may be a good, natural indicator that a hurricane is coming.

A: The right quadrant of the storm will be the side of the storm system with the highest wind speed, often called the "dirty side" of the storm for that reason.

A: A storms of this nature is a huge, potentially devastating weather event. There isn't anything quite like it. The storm gathers heat and energy as it comes into contact with warm ocean waters. The winds of the storm spiral inward and upward at speeds of 70 to 200 mph, with the potential of causing immense destruction to virtually all man-made objects in its wake. Storms of this nature usually last about one day to one week, moving 10 to 20 miles per hour over the open ocean.

A: These tempest weather events are given names so that meteorologists can identify them, track them across oceans, and record their unique characteristics and features.

A: The storms were initially only named after men. But in 1953, to avoid the repetitive use of names, the system was revised so that storms would be given female names too. Today, male and female names are used.

A: It all comes down to air pressure, which is the driving force behind these storms. The weather event is really just an areas of low pressure, with a lot of wind moving around those pressure areas. Air always likes to travel from high pressure to low pressure, or, in other words, to move towards the storm. As the air moves to the storm (in the northern hemisphere), it will get turned to the left. This then creates a spinning motion that is counterclockwise. The opposite occurs for hurricanes that form in the southern hemisphere (they turn to the right, clockwise).

A: Most hurricanes that hit the United States begin in Africa. This is another matter of geography and the unique nature of our planet. There is a source-point off of Africa's west coast, near Cape Verde. In this area, high altitude winds form as a result of two clashing climates in this region. The winds interact with warm equatorial waters and trigger rising columns of warm, moist air over the Atlantic. This is what starts the hurricane, and it moves westward from there.