Weather

Hurricanes: The Greatest Storms on Earth

Hurricanes are the most powerful storms on Earth. Whether called typhoons in the western Pacific or cyclones in the Indian Ocean, damage and destruction result wherever they strike land. These storms develop under different conditions than the everyday storm—they're also far less predictable.

Despite the fact that hurricanes strike hardest in coastal areas, development and population growth along shore areas continues at a rapid rate. In the United States, there are 45 million permanent residents along the coast. During holidays, weekends, and in the summer, the population in some coastal areas increases ten- to a hundred-fold. Even though 80 to 90 percent of the population living in storm-prone areas has never experienced the core of a hurricane, a disaster, if not a catastrophe, is waiting to happen with every hurricane season. It's only a matter of time.

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Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Weather © 2002 by Mel Goldstein, Ph.D.. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

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