Words - 334 Reading Level - 7.2

A hurricane is one of the most powerful forces on earth. The rain pours down in a steady flow of solid sheets. Winds gust up to more than one hundred miles an hour. Powerful masses of swirling wind, clouds and rain combine to form a hurricane. Hurricanes are formed over warm tropical seas. Under the right conditions, these storms may grow to be over three hundred miles wide.

A lot of energy is held within the mass of a swirling hurricane. Energy released in one such storm could supply electricity to the entire country for many years. But modern science has not yet invented a way to capture this energy and to put it to good use. Because hurricanes cannot be contained, they cause a lot of destruction. Each year, hurricanes injure more people and damage more property than all other kinds of storms. Trees are uprooted and the roofs are ripped off of buildings. Utility poles and power lines crash down to the ground causing power outages. Shores are battered by storm-driven waves. Low lying land is soaked by floods.

The most frightening thing about a hurricane is that it takes human lives. In 1970, over 500,000 people were killed during a hurricane which hit the Asian nation of Bangladesh. The worst hurricane in the United States struck Galveston, Texas in 1900. Six thousand people were killed by that storm.

In the United States, many people live near the coastline. To them, hurricanes are a serious threat. Fortunately, few people in this country die because of hurricanes. The development of better warning systems and better communications has reduced the loss of life. Expert scientists use satellites and a series of radar stations to study the formation and movement of hurricanes. These storms no longer take people by surprise. Experts issue a `hurricane warning' if a storm is predicted to strike within twenty-four hours. This warning allows people in the storm's path to move to safety.