#1. – While it’s true that the English word “hurricane” did come from Spanish explorers visiting the west during the 16th and 17th centuries, it’s not a word of European origin. “Hurricane” is actually derived from the word “huracan,” which comes from the Taino language spoken by the Arawak (an indigenous people of the Caribbean region). In Taino, “huracan” simply meant “storm.”
#2. – Hurricanes are only called hurricanes when they form in the Atlantic Ocean. When they originate in the Pacific Ocean, they’re generally called typhoons. While in the Indian Ocean, Hurricanes are known as tropical cyclones. While Arctic hurricanes occasionally form, they’re much weaker than Atlantic hurricanes and are usually referred to as polar lows.
#3. – Hurricane season goes from June through November. Why such a long season? Because during this time the oceans are at their warmest and most humid, meaning optimal conditions for a hurricane to form.
#4. – From a physics perspective, you could actually think of a hurricane as a heat engine – picking up heat from the humid, hot air above tropical waters and releasing that heat by the condensation of water vapor into water droplets in thunderstorms, and then finally producing cold air as exhaust in the troposphere. During the course of its life, the average hurricane will release energy to the equivalent of 10 atomic bombs, while dumping an incredible 8-12 inches of rain. In fact, just the kinetic energy (wind energy) generated by the average hurricane is equivalent to about half of the worldwide electrical generating capacity.
#5. – In the year 1999, the sixth named storm of the season was Hurricane Floyd. Floyd ripped through the Bahamas at Category 4 strength, but was only a Category 2 when it made United States landfall in North Carolina. Hurricane Floyd triggered the third largest evacuation in US history and despite it losing so much strength during its trip up the East Coast, Floyd still managed to cause more than $4.5 billion in damage and widespread flooding for weeks.
#6. – The planet Jupiter has one of the most volatile atmospheres in the entire solar system, with cyclones, lightning and severe storms occurring almost constantly. In fact, the “Great Red Spot” visible in satellite images of Jupiter is actually a giant hurricane measuring more than 10,000 miles across. While a Category 5 Hurricane (the strongest hurricane by Earth classification) can boast winds raging at over 155 miles per hour, the winds in the Great Red Spot are howling at an estimated 384 miles per hour.