Hurricanes are one of nature's most powerful storms. They can make sea levels rise and cause flooding. The "Hurricane Season" begins on June 1 and ends on November 30, although these events can happen at any time during the year.
A storm needs warm, moist air above warm tropical ocean waters and light winds to form. Then the air rises, forming clouds that are high in the sky.
The storm churns up water, mixing warmer water at the surface with cooler, nutrient rich water from deeper down in the ocean. This process is called upwelling. It helps drive food production in the ocean by supplying phytoplankton with plenty of nutrients to bloom and fuel photosynthesis.
A hurricane can wreak havoc on the hydrosphere, which is the layer of water that surrounds Earth. It can cause floods and erosion, which could damage coastal lands and habitats. The storm also can contaminate freshwater bodies by sending salt water from the sea into rivers, streams and lakes, affecting people's ability to drink.
Many animals depend on the ocean for food, and the hurricane can disrupt their environment. For example, sharks have a hard time swimming through the fast-changing waters of a hurricane.
A hurricane will wreak havoc on forests by changing their growth and leaving behind trees that are no longer alive. It can also defoliate trees and affect the way they produce food.