Special Report

What a Hurricane Actually Is and 9 Other Questions Answered

The National Weather Service reports that Hurricane Dorian, with its 185 mph winds, is the second strongest storm ever recorded in the Atlantic basin. Now Dorian has lost some of its strength — it has been downgraded from Category 5 to the high end of Category 2. That is still a matter of grave concern, and as it moves, with what seems like almost taunting slowness, away from the devastated Bahamas and up the coast, its winds are extending farther from its center, and it brings constant downpours with it. 

How does Dorian compare to other major hurricanes? Hurricane Allen reached 190 mph in 1980 and is tied with the Labor Day hurricane of 1935 for the strongest wind speed to reach land. But they are not the only ones or even the most destructive these are the most powerful hurricanes of all time.

This might be a good time to ask just what a hurricane is, anyway, how it gets started, and why it’s potentially so destructive.

Click here for everything you always wondered about hurricanes.