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Northwest Passage. Nudged by westerly trade winds, the whirling disk begins to move northwest, picking up speed as it goes. Eventually the howling hurricane builds up to a diameter of 300-600 miles, whirls at 75 to 140 m.p.h. The most violent gusts are at its leading edge. Sucking up water from the sea, which may rise 20 feet, the disk roars on at 10 to 50 m.p.h. along the path of least resistance, i.e., in the direction of lowest pressure. In the path over which a northbound vortex passes, the storm first blows from the east, offers a brief lull at its 8-to-10-mile eye, then hits from the west. Average life of a hurricane is nine days.
Tropical cyclones of the kind that killed thousands in Myanmar are immensely powerful low-pressure systems capable of generating 10 times as much energy as the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima.
Also known in Asia as typhoons, but more often in the West under the general name of hurricanes, cyclones are storms that rotate around a moving centre of low atmospheric pressure.
They develop over tropical oceans, working up a surface wind of more than 74 miles (120 kilometres) an hour.
Sucking up vast quantities of water, they often produce torrential rains and flooding resulting in major loss of life and property damage.
Waterspouts, likely those of the tornadic variety, have been known to occasionally suck up live fish and frogs and then drop them over nearby land. In Montreal, a waterspout once rained lizards on the city. They have also showered tadpoles on New York and toads on France. A waterspout which struck Providence, Rhode Island, rained fish down on the populus who promptly gathered and sold them, a heaven-sent windfall for sure!