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What is a hypercane?

Hurricanes, Monsoons, and Tropical Storms Read more from
Chapter Stormy Weather

Professor Kerry Emmanuel at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is an authority on using computer models to simulate hurricane activity. In one extreme scenario, Emmanuel hypothesized what might happen if a large asteroid hit one of Earth’s oceans. Of course, there would be monstrous waves and immense heat generated by the impact, but there would be another side effect as well: a hypercane. A hypercane would occur after the impact because deep ocean waters would heat up. The result would be a strange hurricane that would only be about 10 to 20 miles (16 to 32 kilometers) across but would have incredible winds reaching 500 miles (800 kilometers) per hour! Such a hypercane would also be capable of jettisoning moisture upwards of 25 miles (40 kilometers) into the atmosphere.

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