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Outside a Hurricane

Hurricanes are big — usually 320-480 km (200-300 mi) across. And they're powerful. In one day, a hurricane makes enough energy to provide the U.S. with electricity for six months!

But a hurricane starts out as just a bunch of thunderstorms in the tropics (area near the equator). If the thick clouds start to slowly turn in a circle, then it's a tropical depression. And if the winds blow faster than 62 km (39 mi) per hour, it becomes a tropical storm — and gets an official name.

Only if the tropical storm's winds hit at least 118 km (74 mi) per hour is the storm crowned a hurricane. All this takes about a week, if it happens at all. Only about one out of ten tropical depressions actually becomes a hurricane.

October, 1992

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