Hurricanes & Tropical Cyclones: description-link page

world map

World map showing equator and Tropics of Cancer (to the north) and Capricorn (to the south).

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Locations of hurricanes, typhoons, and cyclones

World map showing locations of hurricanes (in the Atlantic and Eastern Pacific Oceans), typhoons (in the Northwest Pacific Ocean), and cyclones (in the Indian and South Pacific Oceans).

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Hurricane locations in the North Atlantic and Northeast Pacific

Map showing hurricane locations, straddling the Tropic of Cancer in the central and western North Atlantic and northeast Pacific Oceans.

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Tropical Cyclones in the North Atlantic Ocean

Chart showing how many tropical cyclones and hurricanes happen in the North Atlantic Ocean during different months of the year. There is a peak in early September, with the season extending from June through November.

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Tropical Cyclones in the Eastern Pacific Ocean

Chart showing how many tropical cyclones and hurricanes happen in the Eastern Pacific Ocean during different months. This chart shows that the main tropical cyclone season is June through October, with the peak in August.

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Typhoon and cyclone locations

Map showing typhoon locations in the Northwest Pacific Ocean and cyclone locations in the western South Pacific Ocean, North Indian Ocean, and South Indian Ocean. Neither typhoons nor cyclones are present in the area immediately north and south of the equator.

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Tropical Cyclones in the Northwest Pacific Ocean

Chart showing how many tropical storms and typhoons happen in the Northwest Pacific Ocean during different months. Most occur between July and November with very few storms during January, February, and March.

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Tropical storms and cyclones in the Indian and southwest Pacific Oceans

Chart showing how many tropical storms and cyclones happen in the Indian Ocean and Southwest Pacific Ocean during different months. Most storms are between December and April in the South Indian Ocean and Southwest Pacific Ocean. In the North Indian Ocean, most are in May, October, and November.

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Satellite image showing three tropical cyclones in the North Atlantic Ocean.

Satellite picture shows the western side of the earth's Northern Hemisphere. Three tropical cyclones can be seen marching across the Atlantic Ocean, forming a line between West Africa and the West Indies.

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The birth of a tropical cyclone

Illustration shows a loosely organized group of storms. Within each storm, arrows show heat and moisture rising into the atmosphere over the ocean. Big orange arrows show that the group is rotating counterclockwise. The ocean surface temperature is warmer than 26.5 Celsius, and light winds blow from the left at the level of the storm tops.

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Satellite image showing three storms in the Atlantic ocean.

A satellite picture shows three tropical cyclones. In the upper-left corner, Hurricane Edouard swirls to the north of Puerto Rico. In the center, Tropical Storm Fran, shaped like a comma, rotates over the ocean to the east of Barbados. In the lower-right, Tropical Depression #7 appears as a loose group of storms over the central Atlantic.

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Satellite image of a hurricane and its eye.

A satellite picture shows a hurricane with a well-defined eye. The eye is clear all the way to the surface of the ocean. It is surrounded by a sharp eyewall that is illuminated by sunlight on one side and is in a shadow on the other.

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Satellite pictures of two strong tropical cyclones.

Two satellite pictures show large hurricane-strength storms. In the picture on the left, the clouds are swirling in a clockwise pattern, while in the picture on the right, they are swirling in a counterclockwise pattern.

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World map of average sea surface temperatures.

World map of the oceans shows sea surface temperatures by color. In the equatorial zone, shading is bright red and orange, indicating warm temperatures. In the midlatitudes, shading goes to yellow and green, indicating cooler sea surface temperatures. Cooler seas are found along the North and South American west coasts, and the Southwest African coast. In the higher latitudes, shading goes from blue to purple, indicating much colder sea surfaces.

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Two satellite images showing a hurricane after landfall.

Two satellite pictures of a hurricane that moved over land. In the picture on the left, the hurricane has just hit the coasts of Florida and Alabama. A large circular blob of blue with red in the middle indicates a very strong storm.

The picture on the right shows the remnants of the same storm 24 hours later. Storm clouds are swirling over north-central Alabama and Mississippi, but the tight spiraling pattern is gone, and the system has become much weaker.

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Damaged sign.

Photo of a damaged McDonald's Restaurant sign. Large pieces are missing from both the main sign section and the golden arches above.

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Damaged mobile home.

Photo of an overturned mobile home resting against the trunks of several damaged and downed pine trees.

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Damaged hotel.

Photo showing a large section of a beach-front hotel that has lost its foundation and totters toward the sea.

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Heavily damaged houses.

Photo showing a residential neighborhood that has been heavily damaged by hurricane-spawned tornados. Some houses are completely demolished, while sections of bare walls remain standing where other houses used to be. Debris litters the yards and streets.

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Destroyed apartment building.

Two photos showing an apartment building before and after it was completely demolished by the storm surge of Hurricane Camille. The before picture shows three buildings with a lawn, trees, and parking lot. The after picture shows only rubble where the building stood and bare trees.

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Westerly and easterly wind belts.

World map showing two midlatitude westerly wind belts (shown in pink). The northern belt blows from west to east across North America, the North Atlantic Ocean, Europe, and Asia. The southern belt blows from west to east across the South Pacific Ocean, Chile, Argentina, the South Atlantic Ocean, South Africa, the South Indian Ocean, Southern Australia, and New Zealand.

The yellow arrows in the picture also show two tropical easterly wind belts blowing from east to west on either side of the equator. The northern tropical easterly belt blows across the Pacific Ocean, Southeast Asia, India, the North Indian Ocean, the Arabian Peninsula, Saharan Africa, the Atlantic Ocean, the Caribbean Sea, Southern Mexico, and Central America. The southern belt blows from east to west across Northern Australia, the Indian Ocean, Southern Africa, the South Atlantic Ocean, the middle of South America, and the South Pacific Ocean.

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Graphic of high and low pressure areas.

Map of North America and the North Atlantic Ocean. A circular low pressure system, with a red "L" in the middle, covers most of the eastern United States. Arrows on its perimeter circle counterclockwise. A circular high pressure system, with a blue "H" in the middle covers a big area over the western Northern Atlantic Ocean. Arrows on its perimeter circle clockwise.

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Graphic showing movement of hurricanes around high and low pressure areas.

Map of North America and the North Atlantic Ocean. A low pressure system covers most of the eastern United States. Arrows on its perimeter circle counterclockwise. A high pressure system covers a big area over the western North Atlantic Ocean. Arrows on its perimeter circle clockwise.

There are two hurricanes on this map. Hurricane A is located over Florida, between the low and the high. It is southeast of the low and west-southwest of the high. Hurricane B is located in the central North Atlantic Ocean, halfway between Africa and the Caribbean. It is southeast of the high pressure system.

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World map showing tropical cyclone paths.

World map with arrows illustrating typical journeys of tropical cyclones in the Pacific, Indian, and Atlantic Oceans. A shaded band highlights the tropics, bounded by the Tropic of Cancer in the Northern Hemisphere and the Tropic of Capricorn in the Southern Hemisphere.

In the North Atlantic Ocean, yellow arrows show typical hurricane paths, starting in the Central Atlantic or Caribbean Sea, moving toward the west, then bending toward the north or northeast as they strike the United States or move into the North Atlantic Ocean.

In the Eastern Pacific Ocean, yellow arrows show hurricanes typically starting near the west coast of Central America and then moving west or northwest into the Pacific Ocean.

In the North Indian Ocean, red arrows show cyclones starting in the eastern or northern parts of the Indian Ocean, and then moving west and north to strike Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, or the Arabian Peninsula.

In the South Indian Ocean, red arrows show cyclones starting in the eastern or central areas of the South Indian Ocean, then moving west, sometimes striking the east coast of Africa, and then turning toward the south.

In the Northwest Pacific Ocean, green arrows show typhoons starting out anywhere along a band about ten degrees north of the equator, then moving west or north to strike Southeast and East Asia. Some typhoons then turn toward the east and move out into the central North Pacific Ocean.

In the Southwest Pacific Ocean, red arrows show cyclones starting out in a long line to the north of Australia, about 10 degrees south of the equator. Then, they turn toward the east and south, striking the north coast of Australia or turning toward the southwest to move into the central South Pacific Ocean.

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