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A hurricane is one of the most severe storms areas in our country have to endure. They can easily damage millions of dollars of property and even kill anyone in their paths. A hurricane is a tropical low pressure area and has winds over 74 miles per hour (120 kilometers per hour). Hurricanes are formed when heat is released as large quantities of water vapor condense. When the heat is released, it warms the air and reduces the air pressure near the surface of the ocean. This causes air to flow rapidly inward. As the winds become circular around this area of low pressure, the inflow of air toward the low pressure center is prevented. The spiraling winds then form a vertical cylinder extending upward for several miles. Most hurricanes originate within the doldrums and travel across the warm ocean waters while building up energy and strength. After they hit land they begin to lose speed and die off due to friction. In the Northern Hemisphere hurricanes usually travel first in a northwestern direction and in the higher latitudes turn toward the northeast. In the Southern Hemisphere the usual path of a hurricane is first to the southwest and then turning toward the southeast.

Hurricanes are characterized by strong winds and pouring rain. Thunderstorms and waterspouts appear in the storm's cloud system. All hurricanes contain an eye. The eye of a hurricane is a low pressure, calm area in the middle of the storm. The air in the eye is sinking and this causes there to be no rain in this area and little wind. This gives the impression that the storm has passed through. It is not safe yet though. Within a few hours depending on the size of the hurricane the other side of the storm will sweep through an area with the same force as the front end. Around this eye is a ring of intense thunderstorms that whirl around the eye. This is called the eye wall.

All hurricanes also have a storm surge. The storm surge often causes the most damage on things. A storm surge is a dome of water that sweeps across the coast near a hurricanes landfall. One forms when the hurricane piles up along the shore and blows it inland. A storm surge is most destructive during high tide. Because of this, the surge height is measured from the normal high tide mark.

To help minimize the death toll and property damage the National Hurricane Center tracks all known storms and tries to alert neighborhoods in danger of being hit. They use radar, sea-based recording devices, and geosynchronous weather satellites to detect these storms. If they feel an area is in danger they will issue a Hurricane Warning. A hurricane warning means that hurricane conditions are expected within the next twenty four hours. You may also be able to predict a hurricane by a few well-known signs. ...

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