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Why are hurricanes called monster storms?

A hurricane—from the Arawak Indian word huracán—is a massive storm in which a vast system of dark clouds, heavy rains, and strong winds circle around a calm center. It originates in the warm waters of the tropics, then lumbers slowly across the world’s oceans (such as the Atlantic, the Gulf of Mexico, the Caribbean, and the Western Pacific Ocean, where they are called typhoons), at speeds of 5 to 20 miles (8 to 32 kilometers) per hour, spinning around a core of low atmospheric pressure. Although the whole storm moves slowly, the circling winds in the storm blow at speeds ranging from 75 miles per hour up to nearly 150 miles (121 to 241 kilometers) per hour. During these “monster storms,” houses fly apart, leaves and branches are ripped off of strong trees, plants are torn out of the ground, and flash floods carry away anything not firmly rooted to the ground, including houses, animals, and people. The central core of the storm—in some cases almost 15 miles (24 kilometers) in diameter—is called the eye of the hurricane. In the North Atlantic, hurricane season is from June 1 to November 3; in the East Pacific they are mostly just tropical storms. Today, space satellites track the course of hurricanes so that early warning can be given to those cities in the path of the storm.

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