Hurricanes, typhoons and cyclones are natural phenomena with enormous destructive capacity. Every year and at different times you hear about them all over the world. However, in recent seasons its strength and frequency seem to be increasing.
Difference between hurricane and typhoon – explanation
Well, the first thing we have to say is that a hurricane, a typhoon and a cyclone are exactly the same atmospheric phenomenon : large closed systems with a center of low pressures and strong winds that rotate clockwise in the southern hemisphere and instead, counterclockwise in the northern hemisphere.
Are they synonymous words then? The truth is that they are not entirely. Researchers use the words hurricane, typhoon, or cyclone depending on where they originate. Therefore, the main difference between a hurricane and a typhoon is where it happens on the planet.
These are the main characteristics of hurricanes and typhoons :
- It is called a hurricane when the storm occurs in the northeastern Pacific, the Caribbean, or the North Atlantic. The word hurricane comes from the name of the Caribbean god of evil, called Huracán or Hurricane (from the Mayan Hunracán).
- When the storm hits the northwest Pacific, it is called a typhoon.
- In addition, within the scope of the denominations of these phenomena, the storm must have winds that reach speeds of a minimum of 119 kilometers per hour to be considered as such.
- A hurricane whose winds exceed or reach 179 kilometers per hour in speed will be classified as a severe hurricane. In turn, if a typhoon registers winds with speeds of at least 241 kilometers per hour, it will be called a super typhoon.
Lastly, we also want to talk a bit about cyclones. If it occurs in the southern Pacific or Indian Ocean, they are called a cyclone or tropical cyclone. Cyclones are always designated by personal names. In the list, each one is called with a letter of the alphabet except the letters Q, U, X, Y and Z. The list is replaced every 6 years, but the names of particularly destructive cyclones are withdrawn to become part of the Historical records.
How hurricanes and typhoons form – process
Here’s how hurricanes and typhoons form :
- Hurricanes, typhoons and cyclones are formed when electrical storms move and accumulate over warm ocean waters , which is why all these natural phenomena have an impact on or near tropical areas.
- The warm air from the surface of the sea combines with that of the storm and they begin to rise, gaining altitude and forming eddies , which causes the pressure at the surface level of the ocean to fall.
- This, in turn, attracts nearby air masses that seek to cover that low pressure. The displacement of the air masses in opposite directions causes the storm to begin to rotate on itself , while the hot air reduces the pressure at higher altitudes.
- The Coriolis effect , caused by the rotation of the Earth, increases the rotation of the system, and the warm water of the ocean contributes even more energy to the whole, causing the winds to increase their speed and the storm to gain strength.
These storms generate enormous amounts of energy , which can cause enormous material and personal damage , both due to the force of their winds and the torrential rainfall they can bring.
To get an idea with a striking example, the energy released by an average hurricane is equivalent to the detonation of a 10 megaton nuclear bomb every 20 minutes. It is not difficult to imagine why they are so dangerous and why, despite their many attempts, humans have not found a way to stop them or, at least, to avoid all the final damage, although it is possible to reduce them on many occasions, thanks to the scientific knowledge and studies that give us some forecasts.
Furthermore, in recent years the strength of these storms seems to be increasing . It has not been possible to demonstrate whether the cause of this is specifically climate change, although it is believed that it is since it is a fact that warmer oceans contribute more energy to these systems. However, it is difficult to say anything due to the enormous number of factors that influence the formation and development of these storms.
Thus, if the global temperature continues to rise, it is likely that we will see more and more of these storms and, in addition, of greater category.
When talking about cyclones, typhoons and hurricanes , it is common to also mention tornadoes as another of their almost synonyms, when it is a mistake. Tornadoes are very easy to recognize, as they are narrow columns of air that travel at high speed on themselves, from the ground to the base of a cumulus cloud or cumulonimbus .
Large ones can easily be seen with the naked eye and are certainly difficult to mistake. They can reach winds with speeds of over 400 kilometers per hour and, although they are very violent and spectacular, they are at a scale of influence much smaller than that of hurricanes, typhoons and cyclones, whose size can exceed 900 kilometers.