The English word hurricane comes from the Taino (the indigenous people of the Caribbean and Florida) word huricán, who was the god of evil. Their huricán was derived from the Mayan god of wind, storm, and fire, huracán.

Today, scientists know the real reason why hurricanes form. Let’s find out!


What is a hurricane?

A hurricane is a big rotating storm with powerful winds. It is the most violent storm known on Earth. 

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The winds in a hurricane blow around in a circle and can cause lots of damage. They can blow huge waves onto the land and cause floods. Some hurricanes can destroy entire towns and cities!


Different names for hurricanes

Hurricanes have different names in different places. In North America and the Caribbean, they are called hurricanes. In the Indian Ocean, they are called cyclones. In Southeast Asia, they are called typhoons.

The scientific name for a hurricane is a tropical cyclone.


What causes a hurricane?

Hurricanes form over warm waters in tropical areas. They almost always happen in the summer months.

When the Sun is very strong it heats up the ocean water. The air above the ocean becomes very warm and starts to rise. The air that rises is replaced with new air, which also becomes warm and begins to rise. This cycle continues to happen until the air that rises forms big storm clouds. As the Earth spins, the storm clouds begin to rotate. If they grow bigger and bigger and spin faster and faster they form a hurricane.


Parts of a hurricane

A hurricane is made up of 3 main parts:

Eye: the centre of the hurricane. It's the calmest part of the hurricane and has very little clouds. Hurricanes rotate around the eye.

Eyewall: the most dangerous part of a hurricane. The eyewall swirls around the eye. It's made up of heavy clouds and is the most dangerous part of a hurricane. It has the strongest winds and heaviest rain.

Rainbands: the outer part of a hurricane. Rainbands are large spirally bands of rain. They can drop huge amounts of rainfall and cause floods when they reach the land.


Did you know?

  • North of the equator, the winds in a hurricane blow in an anticlockwise direction.
  • South of the equator, the winds blow in a clockwise direction.
  • The thick clouds from hurricanes can be seen from space.

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  • Some hurricanes form and fall apart in the middle of the ocean without causing any damage.
  • Hurricanes can have speeds over 200 miles per hour (322 km per hour).