An Atlantic hurricane or tropical storm is a tropical cyclone that forms in the Atlantic Ocean, primarily between the months of June and November. A hurricane differs from a cyclone or typhoon only on the basis of location. A hurricane is a storm that occurs in the Atlantic Ocean and northeastern Pacific Ocean, a typhoon occurs in the northwestern Pacific Ocean, and a cyclone occurs in the South Pacific Ocean or Indian Ocean.
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Tropical cyclones can be categorized by intensity. Tropical storms have one-minute maximum sustained winds of at least 39 mph (34 knots, 17 m/s, 63 km/h), while hurricanes have one-minute maximum sustained winds exceeding 74 mph (64 knots, 33 m/s, 119 km/h). Most North Atlantic tropical storms and hurricanes form between June 1 and November 30. The United States National Hurricane Center monitors the basin and issues reports, watches, and warnings about tropical weather systems for the North Atlantic Basin as one of the Regional Specialized Meteorological Centers for tropical cyclones, as defined by the World Meteorological Organization.
In recent times, tropical disturbances that reach tropical storm intensity are named from a predetermined list. Hurricanes that result in significant damage or casualties may have their names retired from the list at the request of the affected nations in order to prevent confusion should a subsequent storm be given the same name. On average, in the North Atlantic basin (from 1966 to 2009) 11.3 named storms occur each season, with an average of 6.2 becoming hurricanes and 2.3 becoming major hurricanes (Category 3 or greater). The climatological peak of activity is around September 10 each season.
In March 2004, Catarina was the first hurricane-intensity tropical cyclone to be recorded in the Southern Atlantic Ocean. Since 2011, the Brazilian Navy Hydrographic Center has started to use the same scale as the North Atlantic Ocean for tropical cyclones in the South Atlantic Ocean and assign names to those which reach 35 kn (65 km/h; 40 mph).