Hurricanes, or tropical cyclones, form over water, and are fed from the moisture and warmth beneath them. They are also most prevalent during the summer and fall because a lack of turbulent air in the upper atmosphere allows them to form during these particular seasons.
Hurricanes, as they are called north of the equator, form when there is a low pressure area. Heat causes the low pressure area to warm up, causing the air to rise, and producing even lower pressure in the center. The rising warm air also contains moisture, which rises. And, the lowering pressure in the center, produces increasing wind. All of this is aided by the Coriolis Effect, which is the term used to describe the curvature of the wind due to the earth’s rotation and low pressure. This causes the wind to circle the low pressure system, usually with ever increasing speed.
If the disturbance reaches wind speeds of 39-73 mph, it is called a tropical storm. These storms can be dangerous as well, producing high winds and rain that cause damage and flooding. However, they are not nearly as severe as the storm that exceeds 73 mph, and becomes classified as a hurricane.
How intense the hurricane becomes, depends on several factors, such as the force of the wind in the upper atmosphere, and warmth. If there is enough wind activity to disperse the cumulus clouds that form the hurricane, it will subside.
If all the necessary conditions are met, however, the storm may very well have a chance to continue to grow and move across the water, accumulating moisture and picking up speed.
Hurricanes die down fairly quickly once they reach land. Of course how far inland they travel depends on the initial intensity of the storm, but once they no longer have the surface of the water as fuel, they tend to die out. This doesn’t mean that the wind and rain are over. This may last for days, and result in the formation of tornadoes in the process.
Thankfully, today, potential hurricanes can be spotted when they are still in the tropical storm stage, monitored and watched, to determine whether or not they will form into full blown hurricanes. And, while the exact location of the area where they will make landfall is not always possible to predict, the general area, and possible strength can be pretty well determined.