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Five things that a hurricane needs
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Lisa Gardiner/Windows to the Universe

How Hurricanes Form

One in a while, a tropical thunderstorm grows and grows, becoming a giant hurricane. First the storm grows a little bit. It combines with other thunderstorms and they all spin around an area of low pressure. This is called a tropical depression. Then the storm grows some more. Its winds become stronger and it is called a tropical storm. Then, the storm grows even more, its winds become even faster, and it is called a hurricane.

Hurricanes get their energy from the warm ocean water. When a hurricane is over warm water it will grow. A hurricane dies when it moves away from the warm water. When a hurricane moves into areas with cooler ocean water, it weakens. It will also weaken if it travels over land.

Last modified March 13, 2009 by Lisa Gardiner.

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Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part is sponsored in part through grants from federal agencies (NASA and NOAA), and partnerships with affiliated organizations, including the American Geophysical Union, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Earth System Information Partnership, the American Meteorological Society, the National Center for Science Education, and TERC. The American Geophysical Union and the American Geosciences Institute are Windows to the Universe Founding Partners. NESTA welcomes new Institutional Affiliates in support of our ongoing programs, as well as collaborations on new projects. Contact NESTA for more information. NASA ESIP NCSE HHMI AGU AGI AMS NOAA