The power of a hurricane is mostly caused by condensation. The sun heats the ocean water, causing evaporation, and that vapor re-condenses as water at very high elevations. When this condensation occurs, mechanical energy is released, moving the nearby air. As the hurricane intensifies, immense amounts of water vapor condense in this manner, causing the very violent clouds that you see along the “eye” of the hurricane. Winds are also propelled by pressure differentials. The interior of a hurricane is an area of very low atmospheric pressure, which sucks the air toward it. This results in even greater wind speeds. A Category 5 storm–the highest magnitude, such as Hurricane Katrina in 2005–can have wind speeds of over 140 miles per hour.
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