Summer also brings hurricanes. From late spring to early fall, weather conditions come together to form swirling tropical cyclones over the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. These develop from areas of low pressure and thunderstorms over the warm seawater. The thunderstorms give off heat that warms the atmosphere. Air rises and the barometric pressure falls even more. As the air pressure drops, winds increase, and a tropical depression may form. When steady winds reach 39 miles an hour, the cyclone is called a tropical storm and it gets a name. If winds reach a speed of 74 miles an hour inside the tropical cyclone, we call it a hurricane. Near the hurricane’s center will be an area with very few clouds where the air sinks. This is the “eye” of the hurricane.  Most hurricanes never reach the United States coastline, but those that do can bring high waves, coastal flooding and destructive winds.

What’s In a Name?

During World War II, Navy meteorologists began giving names to tropical storms and hurricanes. By the 1953, the practice of naming storms became official. At first, hurricanes only had names of women, but in 1978, men’s names were added. See this year’s list of Atlantic names below. The World Meteorological Organization gives the first tropical storm or hurricane of the season a name that starts with “A.” The name of the second begins with a “B,” and so on. The names help identify the storms. Six lists of names are rotated year after year, so this list will be used again in seven years. If a tropical storm or hurricane on the list causes enough destruction, the name will not be used again.

Did You Know?

Typhoons are the same thing as hurricanes. That is the name used in the western Pacific Ocean. In the Indian Ocean, they are called tropical cyclones.

For more on hurricanes, visit the
National Hurricane Center Web Site.

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