What Causes Hurricanes?

Hurricanes are formed by rain clouds that grow over warm ocean waters. The clouds build to create wind speeds higher than 74 miles per hour. While tornadoes can attack without warning, hurricanes form over a period of days.

The strength of a hurricane and its ranking on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale are determined by the storm's speed. The most dangerous kind of hurricane is a Category 5, which causes winds greater than 157 miles per hour. The storm surge of a hurricane is the most devastating part because a water wall that is 100 miles wide and 15 feet deep covers the coastline once the hurricane hits.

From June 1 to November 30, the Atlantic hurricane season is the period of the most dangerous storms that threaten the United States. The storms usually cause damage in the southeastern United States, Gulf of Mexico coastlines and Caribbean region. In the middle of May, the East Pacific hurricane season begins, and storms wreak havoc from Hawaii to western Mexico. Stretching from Florida and eastern Texas to the northeastern United States is an area known as Hurricane Alley. Hurricanes are given names in alphabetical order and change between male and female names. All letters are used except Q, U, X, Y and Z.