Hurricanes — called typhoons in the Pacific — are also cyclones. They are cyclones that form in the tropics and so they are also called tropical cyclones. By any name, they are the most damaging storms on Earth.
Hurricanes arise in the tropical latitudes (between 10o and 25oN) in summer and autumn when sea surface temperature are 28oC (82oF) or higher. The warm seas create a large humid air mass. The warm air rises and forms a low pressure cell, known as a tropical depression. Thunderstorms materialize around the tropical depression.
Damage from hurricanes comes from the high winds, rainfall, and storm surge. Storm surge occurs as the storm’s low pressure center comes onto land, causing the sea level to rise unusually high. A storm surge is often made worse by the hurricane’s high winds blowing seawater across the ocean onto the shoreline.
Hurricanes typically last for 5 to 10 days. The winds push them to the northwest and then to the northeast. Eventually a hurricane will end up over cooler water or land. At that time the hurricane’s latent heat source shut downs and the storm weakens. When a hurricane disintegrates, it is replaced with intense rains and tornadoes.
Hurricanes are actually tropical cyclones because they originate in the tropical latitudes.
The damage hurricanes cause is due largely to storm surge, but high wind speeds and rain also cause damage.
Hurricane Katrina was so damaging because the levees that protected New Orleans broke.