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A hurricane is a type of storm system characterized by a low pressure center and thunderstorms, producing strong wind and flooding rain. A hurricane feeds on the heat released when moist air rises and the water vapor condenses. Its meteorological term is "tropical cyclone." The adjective "tropical" refers to both the geographic origin of these systems, which form almost exclusively in tropical regions of the globe, and their formation in tropical, or more precisely, 'maritime tropical' air masses. The term "cyclone" refers to such storms' cyclonic nature, with counterclockwise rotation in the Northern Hemisphere and clockwise rotation in the Southern Hemisphere. Hurricanes are distinguished from other cyclonic windstorms such as nor'easters, European windstorms, and polar lows by the heat mechanism that fuels them, which makes them "warm core" storm systems.

Hurricanes can produce extremely strong and powerful winds, tornadoes, torrential rain, high waves, and storm surge. They are born and sustained over large bodies of warm water, and lose their strength over land. This is the reason coastal regions can receive significant damage from a hurricane, while inland regions are relatively safe from receiving strong winds. Heavy rains, however, can produce significant flooding inland, and storm surges can produce extensive coastal flooding up to 25 mi (40 km) inland. Although their effects on human populations can be devastating, hurricanes can also relieve drought conditions. They carry heat away from the tropics, an important mechanism of the global atmospheric circulation that helps maintain equilibrium in the Earth's troposphere.

Hurricanes to hit the Pensacola area[edit]

The history of Pensacola is closely tied to hurricanes. Indeed, the first European colony in the current United States, founded in Pensacola by Don Tristan de Luna, was decimated by a hurricane on September 19, 1559. The Pensacola area has been hit by hurricanes and tropical storms approximately 46 times since 1876. Below is a partial list. Note: the hurricane-naming convention began in 1950.

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