Hurricanes are giant, spiraling tropical storms that can pack wind speeds of over 160 miles (257 kilometers) an hour and unleash more than 2.4 trillion gallons (9 trillion liters) of rain a day.
Despite unexpectedly low damage assessments, the hurricane was bigger and longer lasting than it had any right to be, experts say. While hurricanes, droughts, floods, and storm surges are natural events, the degree of disaster is often now heavily influenced by humans.

When a hurricane makes landfall it often produces a devastating storm surge that can reach 20 feet (6 meters) high and extend nearly 100 miles (161 kilometers). Torrential rains cause further damage by spawning floods and landslides, which may occur many miles inland.The best defense against a hurricane is an accurate forecast that gives people time to get out of its way. The National Hurricane Center issues hurricane watches for storms that may endanger communities, and hurricane warnings for storms that will make landfall within 24 hours.

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