Hurricane, cyclone, typhoon and tornado

Although many times these meteorological phenomena are used interchangeably, the difference between hurricane, cyclone, typhoon and tornado resides mainly in the place where the storm occurs and the intensity of the same. In the Atlantic and Northeast Pacific, the term “hurricane” is used. The same type of disturbance in the Northwest Pacific is called a “typhoon” and “cyclones” occur in the South Pacific and the Indian Ocean.

Hurricane, siphon and typhoon


DefinitionLow pressure circulation in a counterclockwise direction with strong winds that develops over the oceans.It is a giant spinning air storm formed when cold air from the sky meets warm air on the ground.
originsIn Oceans (+27 degrees)On land and sea
ZonesBetween 5 and 15 latitudeBetween 20 and 50 latitude
WindsBetween 120 and 140 km / hHasta 500 km/h
DiametersBetween 500 and 1,800 kmUp to 250 meters
DurationBetween days to several weeksFew minutes to a few hours
Associated withThey do not existLines of instability, fronts or storm clouds. Rains, hail and lightning.

What is a hurricane

A hurricane is a low-pressure, counterclockwise circulation with strong winds (exceeding 64 knots, 73 mph), which develops over tropical oceans in summer and generally moves west and northwest. Each year, beginning in late spring and continuing through summer, the air warms and the oceans near the equator begin a warming trend. This change in temperature causes the start of the hurricane season. At this time, warm air rises through the atmosphere and cools, causing condensation.and forming clouds. Condensation releases latent heat and lowers surface pressure. This can cause a circular storm, which sometimes becomes a hurricane (a type of tropical cyclone). In the Atlantic Ocean, the eastern Pacific Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Caribbean Sea, these tropical cyclones are known as “hurricanes.” In the Far East, they are known as ‘typhoons’, and in the Indian Ocean and the northern coast of Australia they are known as ‘tropical cyclones’ or ‘cyclones’.

The hurricane is a mechanism by which nature releases the tremendous accumulation of heat in the tropics. This heat, combined with the humidity of the tropical ocean, is the energy source of the hurricane. The fuel source for these storms comes from the evaporation of water from warm seas. This vapor releases latent heat in the form of cumulus clouds. The dissipation of a hurricane once it moves into open water is often due to the distance from the moisture that was supplied by the ocean. The hurricane serves as a mechanism for transporting the accumulated heat from the warm tropics to the colder mid and high latitudes. This causes hot, humid air to rise rapidly to high altitudes where it eventually blows north. This process is known as the “outflow” of a hurricane.

What is a cyclone

A cyclone is a general term for a weather system in which the winds turn inward to an area of ​​low atmospheric pressure . For large weather systems, the circulation pattern is counterclockwise in the northern hemisphere and clockwise in the southern hemisphere. Cyclone types include tropical cyclones, extratropical cyclones, and tornadoes .

A tropical cyclone is a low-pressure rotating weather system that has staged electrical storms but no fronts. They are formed on the warm waters of the ocean.

Tropical cyclones with maximum sustained surface winds of less than 39 mph are called tropical depressions . Those with maximum sustained winds of 39 mph or more are called tropical storms . When the maximum sustained winds of a storm reach 74 mph, they are called hurricanes or typhoons . Hurricanes form over the Atlantic Ocean or the Caribbean Sea; Typhoons form over the western Pacific Ocean.

Extratropical cyclones are low pressure systems that form outside the tropics in response to chronic instability from westerly winds. Because this instability depends on large horizontal temperature contrasts, concentrated regions of temperature change known as fronts characterize extratropical cyclones.

These storms populate the middle and high latitudes, north of 35 degrees latitude in the Northern Hemisphere, and are therefore also called “mid-latitude cyclones . ” If the barometric pressure of a mid-latitude cyclone falls by at least 1 millibar per hour over 24 hours, the storm is known as a “bomb cyclone . 

A tornado is a rapidly rotating column of air that spreads downward from a thunderstorm to the ground. The most violent tornadoes are capable of tremendous destruction with wind speeds of up to 300 mph.

What is a typhoon

According to the National Ocean Service; “A tropical cyclone is a generic term used by meteorologists to describe a rotating and organized system of clouds and thunderstorms that originates in tropical or subtropical waters and has a low-level closed circulation . 

So what is the difference between a typhoon and a hurricane? Well, none really, just that they are called differently simply because of where they appear . For example, in the North Atlantic, Central North Pacific, and Eastern North Pacific, the term hurricane is used . The same type of phenomenon that occurs in the Pacific Northwest is called a typhoon . Then, in the South Pacific and the Indian Ocean, the generic term tropical cyclone is used .

So how do typhoons arise? Well, they form only over the warm waters of the ocean near the equator . Hot air over the ocean rises upward, causing low pressure below. Moist air from surrounding areas with higher air pressure moves into this area and then moves upward, creating clouds. This system of clouds and wind rotates and grows because the ocean continues to feed it.

This storm continues to spin faster and faster, creating an eye in the middle. When the wind speed reaches 74 miles per hour, the storm is officially a typhoon, tropical cyclone, and hurricane.

What is a tornado

A tornado is a rotating pillar of air formed when cold air in the sky meets warm air on the ground. This causes instability in pressure and causes warmer air to rise. After this happens, a tornado is born into a giant, spinning storm. To find out, before a tornado hits the ground, rain and hail begin to fall.

Once the tornado hits the ground, the rotating air mass begins to accelerate as it absorbs debris in its path. Most tornadoes are easily visible; This is due to the dirt and debris they collect. Tornadoes are generally colorless. Some tornadoes occur in water, and since they only collect water, they are barely visible, especially at night.

Now how do we predict a tornado will form? The answer is that we cannot predict it . Even some seasoned meteorologists and storm chasers have a hard time predicting if a tornado will land. The only thing these brave men and women can predict is the path a tornado will take. Once a tornado hits, it is unstoppable, and the worst that can happen to it is that it grows larger and larger as it destroys the landscape. The more debris it absorbs, the faster it spins and the wider it gets.

However, seeing the center of a huge tornado is a fascinating thing, as a large tornado is propelled by a smaller tornado amid the entire mass of the rotating wind. There are still many mysteries around how they are formed. Another mystery is how tornadoes are stopped; So far, scientists have been unsuccessful in their attempts to explain how they do it. However, as soon as a tornado stops, we know that the destruction has also stopped.

Tornadoes are a bewildering force of nature; even though some already know how they are formed, they still have many mysteries. But as long as they continue to wreak havoc, it’s best to know what to do in the event of a tornado.

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