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Severe tropical storms whose winds exceed 74 mph. Hurricanes originate over the tropical and subtropical North Atlantic and North Pacific oceans, where there is high humidity and light wind. These conditions prevail mostly in the summer and early fall. Since hurricanes can take days or even weeks to form, time is usually available for preventive or protective measures.

From space, hurricanes look like giant pinwheels, their winds circulating around an eye that is between 5 and 25 miles in diameter. The eye remains calm with light winds and often a clear sky.

Hurricanes may move as fast as 50 mph, and can become incredibly destructive when they hit land. Although hurricanes lose power rapidly as soon as they leave the ocean, they can cause high waves and tides up to 25 feet above normal. Waves and heavy flooding cause the most deaths during a hurricane. The strongest hurricanes can cause tornadoes. Source: NASA (http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Glossary)