The word comes from Huracan, the Carib Indian God of Evil. These frightful storms sweep across vast oceans and are a collection of devastating winds, violent spiraling thunderstorms, and colossal seas. From a distance a hurricane looks white and solid except for a dark hole at the center called the eye, the axle of a great spinning wheel.
Unlike gales and storm-force winds, which develop and move in straight or curving lines, hurricanes (also called typhoons or cyclones) are rapidly spinning outbursts of extreme winds that occur in seasonal patterns on tropical seas, generally in specific areas. These storms have no weather fronts associated with them; they're true revolving storms.
Each is a kind of specialized cloud engine that needs warm, moist air as fuel. The necessary heat is taken from ocean water that is heated to at least 80° Fahrenheit (27° Celsius) to a depth of hundreds of feet. The warm air rises high into the atmosphere, where its entrained moisture condenses into water droplets, which give up the heat that evaporated the water in the first place. It is this heat energy that powers a hurricane. However, not all tropical depressions become tropical storms; fewer still become hurricanes.
In the North Atlantic, these giant storms are often spawned in the eastern part of the ocean near Africa and the Cape Verde Islands (16° N) and move westward across the ocean as gradually intensifying tropical depressions or storms. Once in the Caribbean (see #1 on the accompanying map), Atlantic hurricanes usually move west or northwest before curving to the north or northeast. They threaten the waters off the lower East Coast of the United States before losing force as they encounter cooler land and sea temperatures. In addition, Caribbean hurricanes menace the waters off the east coast of Central America and Mexico. There are about six Atlantic hurricanes each
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