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Hurricanes are severe tropical storms that form in the southern Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico, and in the eastern Pacific Ocean. They collect heat and energy through contact with warm ocean waters and then move toward land. Evaporation from the ocean water increases their power. Hurricanes rotate in a counter-clockwise direction around an “eye,” which is the center of the hurricane.

Hurricanes have winds at least 74 miles per hour. When hurricanes come onto land, their heavy rain, strong winds, and large waves can damage buildings, trees, and cars. Storm surge is when rising water moves inland, or away from the coastline. It’s very dangerous. 

Words to Know

Hurricanes are most common between June and November. Any U.S. coast by the Atlantic or Pacific Ocean can get hit and you can feel the effects more than 100 miles inland. People who live on the coast may experience extreme winds and flooding from rain and storm surge. People who live inland are at risk for wind, thunderstorms, and flooding.


  • Build an emergency kit.
  • Make a family communications plan. Plan how to communicate with family members if you lose power or are separated.
  • Help your parents bring in outdoor items like potted plants, patio furniture, decorations, and garbage cans. They can fly away in strong winds!


  • Don’t open the refrigerator or freezer. In case you lose power, you want the cold air to stay in so food will last longer!
  • Stay away from windows and glass doors. They could break and hurt you.
  • If you did not evacuate, stay inside a closet, hallway, or a room without windows.
  • Listen to your parents or safety authorities for important instructions.


  • Don’t go outside without a grown-up.
  • Don’t go near any wires that are loose or dangling. They could electrocute you!
  • Tell your parents if you smell gas.
  • Text, don’t talk. Unless there’s a life-threatening situation, send a text so that you don’t tie up phone lines needed by emergency workers. Plus, texting may work even if cell service is down.

Did you know?

Hurricanes can also affect areas greater than 100 miles away from the coastline. People who live inland are also at risk for wind, thunderstorms, tornadoes, and flooding.

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Last Updated: 10/02/2019