Tropical Twisters - Hurricanes: How they work and what they do.

What are Hurricanes?

Hurricane Georges Most people associate twisters with tornadoes, but in fact tropical twisters come from hurricanes. Hurricanes are what scientists call "strong Tropical Cyclones". They are formed when large areas of the ocean become heated, and the air pressure over that area drops. This causes thunderstorms and strong surface winds. Cyclones develop over tropical or sub-tropical waters (for example, in the Atlantic off the coast of Africa, or in the Pacific). As they travel long distances gathering energy from the ocean, they are likely to be classified as strong Tropical Cyclones. When the winds of a tropical storm reach 74 mph, then the storm is classified as a hurricane.

One of NASA's most important missions is to develop an understanding of the total Earth system and study the effects of natural and human- induced changes on the global environment. To achieve these goals, NASA has developed satellites and ground programs which study and monitor hurricanes and other climatic events.



Updated: January 22, 2003
Lockheed WC-130 Hercules reconnaissance aircraft
The Hurricane Hunters
The U.S. 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron fly right into the eye of hurricanes. Go along for the ride!

How are Hurricanes Named?
Is your name among the currently used or retired hurricane names?

View from Space
Take a Tour
Take a VR Tour of a hurricane, and see how the winds within a hurricane interact.

On a Search?
Try the hurricane word search.


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