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A HURRICANE IS a particularly strong tropical storm; that is, a storm with winds in excess of 74 miles per hour. Hurricane is the term used for this type of storm in the North Atlantic Ocean; in the Pacific Ocean, these storms are known as typhoons, and in the Indian Ocean they are known as cyclones. The smallest hurricanes—Category 1 on the Saffir/Simpson scale—are relatively minor, with winds of between 74 and 95 miles per hour and a storm surge of about four to five feet. A Category 5 storm, on the other hand, packs winds of over 155 miles per hour; with a storm surge along the coastline of greater than 18 feet.

Current research suggests that Atlantic hurricanes begin with atmospheric disturbances near north ...

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