Hurricanes are violent tropical storms with sustained winds of at least 74 mph. They form over warm ocean waters – usually starting as storms in the Caribbean or off the west coast of Africa. As they move westward, they are fueled by the warm waters of the tropics. Warm, moist air moves toward the center of the storm and spirals upward. This releases torrential rains. As updrafts suck up more water vapor, it triggers a cycle of strengthening that can be stopped only when contact is made with land or cooler water.