A hurricane is a large, spinning wind system that develops over warm seas near the equator. They usually begin in the late, hotter days of summer due to the fact that the sea surface must have a temperature of at least 78F for the hurricane to develop. Air heated by the sun rises fast, which in turn, creates a space of extremely low pressure. As it rises, it becomes bombarded with moisture that condenses into massive thunderclouds. Cool air then rushes in to fill the void that is left. Because of the constant turning of the Earth on its axis, the air is bent inward and then spirals upwards with amazing force. These swirling winds rotate faster and faster, forming a huge circle that can be up to 1,200 miles across.

The center of the hurricane is known as the eye. Though calm, warm, and often cloudless, it is surrounded by a raging storm with winds up to 125 miles an hour and thunderclouds capable of dropping more rain in one day than a city like New York would see in a year. As the storm travels at its average 10 - 30 mph speed, it stirs up gigantic waves referred to as storm surges which can reach the land days before the hurricane. These surges hit the coast with more power as the hurricane moves closer. When the hurricane hits the land, the huge bulge of water that forms beneath the storm’s eye smashes ashore. This is the most deadly and destructive element of the surge.

The storm finally begins to die down when it hits an area of cold sea or when it reaches land. The climate is inhospitable to the hurricane and the supply of moist air that it needs is cut off. The eye disappears quickly and the storm fades away but the memory of it and devastation caused, remains much longer.

Carolyn Gullo

We’ve all seen or heard of the mighty hurricanes that tend to devastate our lands, but what exactly are they? How do they start and why do they die?