Hurricane Facts



  • Hurricanes are powerful, whirling tropical storms. They are also called willywillies, cyclones or typhoons.
  • Hurricanes develop in late summer as clusters of thunderstorms build up over warm seas (at least 27°C).
  • As hurricanes grow, they tighten into a spiral with a calm ring of low pressure called the ‘eye’ at the centre.
  • Hurricanes move westwards at about 20 km/h. They strike east coasts, bringing torrential rain and winds gusting up to 360 km/h.
  • Officially a hurricane is a storm with winds exceeding 119 km/h.
  • Hurricanes last, on average, 3-14 days. They die out as they move towards the Poles into cooler air.
  • Each hurricane is given a name in alphabetical order each year, from a list issued by the World Meteorological Organization. The first storm of the year might be, for instance, Hurricane Andrew.
  • The whirling winds of a hurricane can cause widespread destruction. The storm measures between 320 and 480 km in diameter.
  • The most fatal cyclone ever was the one that struck Bangladesh in 1970. It killed 266,000 with the flood from the storm surge – the rapid rise in sea level created as winds drive ocean waters ashore.
  • A hurricane generates the same energy every second as a small hydrogen bomb.
  • Each year 35 tropical storms reach hurricane status in the Atlantic Ocean, and 85 around the world.