Where are they?
Hurricanes occur in many parts of the world, even though they aren't called hurricanes all over. In the Indian Ocean and near Australia, they are called cyclones and in the Western Pacific they are called Typhoons.
They occur in the following places:
- Tropical North Atlantic, Caribbean Sea, and Gulf of Mexico.
- Eastern North Pacific
- Western North Pacific
- Bay of Bengal
- Arabian Sea
- South Indian Ocean
- Northwest coast of Australia extending westward to the central Indian Ocean
- South Pacific Ocean near Eastern Australia
The birth of a hurricane requires at least three conditions. First, the ocean waters must be warm enough at the surface to put enough heat and moisture into the overlying atmosphere to provide the potential fuel for the thermodynamic engine that a hurricane becomes. Second, atmospheric moisture from sea water evaporation must combine with that heat and energy to form the powerful engine needed to propel a hurricane. Third, a wind pattern must be near the ocean surface to spirals air inward. Bands of thunderstorms form, allowing the air to warm further and rise higher into the atmosphere. If the winds at these higher levels are relatively light, this structure can remain intact and grow stronger: the beginnings of a hurricane!
What are the costs to human life and property?
Hurricanes can be very deadly. The most deadly hurricane was the Great Bhola Cyclone in 1970, which killed up to 500,000 people. Especially in impoverished areas, the death toll is usually high.
Hurricanes are also very expensive. They can destroy coastal cities and cause massive flooding. Hurricane Katrina cost 60 billion dollars to repair the damages. Worldwide support is often given to countries hit by a large hurricane, because they can be very difficult to recover from.
How do people adapt to hurricanes?
Developed countries have the resources and technology to predict and monitor the occurrence of storms, like using satellites and specially equipped aircraft. They are also equipped to train the emergency services appropriately and to educate people about necessary precautions. Levees can also be used to hold flood waters back.
Storm warnings can be issued to enable the population to evacuate or prepare themselves for the storm. People can prepare by storing food and water or boarding up their windows.
Less developed countries are often less prepared. They may rely on aid (sometimes reluctantly) from other countries for the rescue and recovery process, as was the case with Cyclone Sidr in Bangladesh, November 2007.
The word hurricane comes from the Taino Native American word, hurucane, meaning evil spirit of the wind.