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Typhoon vs Hurricane vs Cyclone: What’s the Difference Between Them?

Typhoon vs Hurricane vs Cyclone: What’s the Difference Between Them?

Summary:

What’s the difference between a hurricane vs typhoon vs cyclone? We’ve got the simple answer for you right here, along with an easy explanation and images.

what's the difference between a typhoon vs hurricane
Image of a hurricane taken from space. Taken by NASA via unsplash.com. [Public Domain].

Ever wondered what the difference between a hurricane vs typhoon vs cyclone was?

Wonder no longer!

Typhoon vs Hurricane vs Cyclone

The answer in a nutshell: A hurricane and a typhoon are essentially the same thing—both tropical cyclones with the same properties. The only real difference between a typhoon and a hurricane (and a tropical cyclone) is its location.

Generally, around much of the Western Hemisphere, the northern Atlantic, and the northeastern Pacific, a tropical cyclone is called a hurricane. In the Northwestern Pacific Basin, a tropical cyclone is called a typhoon. Finally, in the south Pacific and Indian Oceans, it’s simply called a cyclone (or tropical cyclone).

On Cyclones

In meteorology, a cyclone is an air mass with spiraling winds which spins around a low-pressure center (known as the “eye”).

A tropical cyclone, including hurricanes and typhoons, is a cyclone which forms over a tropical area, such as the Caribbean Sea or Indian Ocean.

To become a hurricane or typhoon (and a true tropical cyclone), the weather phenomenon must have maximum sustained winds of 74 mph (119 km/hr) or higher. Below that but above 39 mph (62.8 km/hr), it is known as a tropical storm. Below the tropical storm is the tropical depression.

South of Earth’s equator, these storms spin clockwise; north of the equator, they spin counterclockwise.

Recipe for a Hurricane or Typhoon

To create a hurricane, typhoon, or true tropical cyclone, there usually has to exist these factors:

  • A weather disturbance which has already formed,
  • warm tropical sea or ocean water,
  • humidity or moisture, and
  • calmer, light winds (they’ll get crazier later!).

Because they originate in the tropics or subtropics, there is a lot of warm tropical water to be had. The warm air above this water, which is also very moist, rises up and is replaced by dryer, cooler air. Then that cooler air gets warm, and the cycle continues to form a storm. If these storms get large enough, they will start to spin with the Earth’s natural rotation; and if the maximum sustained wind speeds get fast enough, they become the hurricane, typhoon, or tropical cyclone.

Well, that’s it on our post about the differences between a typhoon vs a hurricane vs a cyclone, and we hope you found it easy to understand! Got any questions, feedback, or other points to add about hurricane and typhoon differences? Let us know in the comments below, and thanks for reading!

Christian Eilers
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Christian Eilers
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