A hurricane may be one of two different meteorological phenomena, both easily identifiable and both very violent, but of a decidedly different physical nature:
* firstly, a hurricane is a generic term used to describe a tropical cyclone in two regions in tropical and subtropical zones: the first one includes the North Atlantic, the Gulf of Mexico, the Northeast Pacific and adjacent coastal areas (including the Antilles Archipelago), and the second one includes the Southeast Indian Ocean between Indonesia and Australia, the South Pacific and the adjacent coastal areas (including New Caledonia and French Polynesia);
* secondly, outside tropical and subtropical zones, a hurricane is a term currently used to describe a very violent storm with winds reaching speeds of 120 km/h or more.
In fact this second meaning has gradually been adopted in Europe, alongside the term tropical cyclone, because of the name given to the most powerful storm winds, which can cause confusion. In marine meteorology, any wind with an average speed reaching or surpassing force 12 on the Beaufort scale (64 knots or 118 km/h) is called a hurricane force wind. A hurricane forecast thus results in a hurricane warning.