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How long does a hurricane last?

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Quick Answer

Once a tropical storm is classified as a hurricane, it can last for as little as a day or as long as a month before dissipating. Regardless of lifespan, all hurricanes undergo a development process called a life cycle. Several factors contribute to their longevity, including air and ocean temperatures, wind speed, and other atmospheric conditions.

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How long does a hurricane last?
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Full Answer

Hurricanes begin as low pressure areas over bodies of water in the tropics. Warm, moisture-filled air rising from the water gathers in the low pressure area, creating thunderstorms. Masses of thunderstorms in tropical low pressure areas are called tropical disturbances. A tropical disturbance does not yet have the organized wind patterns of a tropical storm or hurricane.

If the winds in a tropical disturbance begin to organize and circulate around a central area, the system may become a tropical depression. Tropical depressions are named after the low pressure areas in which they form. If wind speeds within a tropical depression increase to 39 miles per hour, the system can be classified as a tropical storm. Tropical storms can morph into hurricanes if wind speeds increase further to 74 miles per hour.

Hurricanes can last anywhere between under a day and up to a month. Typhoon John, which formed in the Pacific Ocean in the 1994 season, lasted for a total of 31 days, making it one of the longest hurricanes recorded. Hurricane Ginger, an Atlantic hurricane, lasted for a total of 28 days in 1971, until it was downgraded to a tropical storm. Most hurricanes do not persist for anything near this duration, often petering out well before they make landfall, or shortly after they reach land.

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