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What is a hurricane?

Hurricanes develop most often off the west coast of Africa when water temperatures reach 27°C, giving the necessary heat and moisture to the air to form a tropical depression with wind speeds of around 20-40mph. From here the tropical depression tracks westwards across the Atlantic Ocean towards North America under the influence of trade winds, gaining moisture and energy as it travels - developing into a tropical storm (wind speeds of around 40-70mph). As a tropical storm approaches the Gulf of Mexico, wind speeds increase to over 75mph and a category 1 hurricane is born. When a hurricane reaches land it is deprived of moisture so loses energy and begins to decay whilst tracking northwards. Hurricanes have a huge impact on people’s lives - the high speed winds and the intense cumulonimbus development (increasing the risk of heavy rainfall and thunderstorms) causes a number of problems to the population. 

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