How Much Energy does a Hurricane Release?

A hurricane can produce up to 600 trillion watts of energy — about 200 times the amount of energy the entire world can generate. The energy produced is measured by the amount of water produced by the hurricane and its subsequent condensation — the measurement is called the "latent heat of condensation." An average hurricane produces about a half inch (1.27 centimeters) of rain each day in an area about 825 miles (1,328 kilometers) across. The total volume of water would fill more than 22 million Olympic-sized pools. The latent heat of condensation is about 600 trillion watts.

More Whirling Dervish Facts:

  • The most deadly hurricane to hit US shores was the Galveston Hurricane in 1900, which killed about 8,000 people and cost $30 million US Dollars in damages. It still is considered the worst weather-related disaster in US history.

  • Hurricane Katrina, which hit New Orleans in 2005, was the costliest hurricane in US history. The hurricane had reported wind gusts of about 87 miles per hour (140 kilometers per hour) and produced at least three tornadoes. Katrina was responsible for about 1,200 deaths and cost $75 billion US Dollars.

  • Because of the Earth's rotation, hurricanes south of the Equator spin clockwise. North of the Equator, hurricanes spin counter-clockwise.

  • The deadliest part of a hurricane is the storm surge. A 30-foot (9-meter) surge from a hurricane that hit Bangladesh in 1970 resulted in 300,000 deaths.
More Info: Discover Magazine; NOAA; PBS

Discussion Comments


You state that a hurricane can produce 200 times more energy than the entire world can generate. In a day, in a week, in a year? I don't understand.

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