Hurricanes only form over really warm ocean water of 80°F or warmer. The atmosphere (the air) must cool off very quickly the higher you go. Also, the wind must be blowing in the same direction and at the same speed to force air upward from the ocean surface. Winds flow outward above the storm allowing the air below to rise. Hurricanes typically form between 5 to 15 degrees latitude north and south of the equator. The Coriolis Force is needed to create the spin in the hurricane and it becomes too weak near the equator, so hurricanes can never form there.
Storm surges are frequently the most devastating element of a hurricane. As a hurricane’s winds spiral around and around the storm, they push water into a mound at the storm’s center. This mound of water becomes dangerous when the storm reaches land because it causes flooding along the coast. The water piles up, unable to escape anywhere but on land as the storm carries it landward. A hurricane will cause more storm surge in areas where the ocean floor slopes gradually. This causes major flooding.
As you watch the storm-surge animations, notice the effect that the physical geography of each coastline has on storm surge. Also, note the waves on top of the ocean's surface. Wind, waves, and sea-level rise all contribute to storm-surge damage.
The Atlantic hurricane season is from June 1 to November 30, but most hurricanes occur during the fall months. The Eastern Pacific hurricane season is from May 15 to November 30. (Below is a graphic that shows you when hurricanes are most active across parts of the world.)
One effect of hurricanes on the environment is they cause erosion. When the hurricane comes it causes the water to rise and also to make huge waves. The waves and high water level, also known as the storm surge, cause erosion. The erosion may destroy buildings by pulling the sand from underneath the building. Sea oats hold the sand dunes together with their roots. The hurricane takes the roots out of the ground and then the sand doesn't hold. Then, the sand dune collapses.
Another effect of hurricanes on the environment is on the bayous. High levels of bacteria get in the bayou and make the water unsafe to swim in. It’s bad for the fish and other animals in the bayou. Some fish even die from hurricanes because of the bacteria levels. It makes it hard for the fish and other animals to breathe.