Typhoons, cyclones and hurricanes are not the same - here some key differences you should know

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  • Typhoons, cyclones and hurricanes are the same kind of weather phenomenon with wind speeds of at least 119 kilometres per hour.

  • Scientists choose to call these storms differently depending on where they occur.

  • These storms also adhere to different seasons.
Storms are powerful natural events that can result in severe damage on the earth. These natural calamities can be threatening in several ways affecting lives, property, livelihood, infrastructure, development, forest, crops and land. To be called as a typhoon, cyclone or hurricane, a storm must attain a speed of at least 119 kilometres per hour.

Storms occurring in different oceans have different characteristics and go by different to identify them easily and understand the kind of destruction they bring.

Where they occur

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Typhoons, hurricanes and cyclones are all-powerful storms and they have many things in common. The only difference that gives them different names is that they happen in different geographical locations.

As per AccuWeather, "We call a tropical system a hurricane in the Atlantic and northeast Pacific. In the northern Indian Ocean, they're called cyclones. And people living along the northwest Pacific call these storms typhoons."

Storms occurring in the Atlantic and northern Pacific are called hurricanes. The term hurricane is coined from Hurrican, the Caribbean god of evil.

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Those powerful storms that occur in the northwestern Pacific are known as typhoons.

In the southwestern Pacific and Southeast Indian Ocean, storms are labelled as tropical cyclones. The cyclones originating in the northern Indian Ocean are known as severe cyclonic storms and those that originate in the southwestern Indian Ocean are called as tropical cyclones since the impacts of the former can be more devastating than the latter.

Characteristics of storms

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When a storm attains a wind speed of at least 74 miles per hour [kmph pls], it is fit to be classified as anyone of the above categories including typhoon, cyclone and hurricane.

Hurricane winds reaching a speed of 111 miles per hour [kmph pls] are known as an intense hurricane.

Those typhoons that hit 150 miles per hour [kmph pls] will be labelled as a super typhoon.

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Seasons of different storms

The season in which Atlantic hurricane can occur stretches from June 1 to November 30.

The northeastern Pacific regions can witness typhoons between June and December.

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Cyclones occur in the northern Indian oceans from April to December.

A hurricane can become a typhoon

Very interestingly, a hurricane can become a typhoon if a particular storm crosses the International Date Line at about 180 degrees west longitude. Such a phenomenon happened in 2014 which changed the name of hurricane Genevieve as typhoon Genevieve.

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Tornados are different from these three types of storms

Though typhoons, cyclones and hurricanes are only different names given to powerful storms, tornados are quite different from these three weather phenomenon. Tornado is a violent and spiralling cloud that extends like a funnel from the bottom of a thunderstorm to the ground. While the three different kinds of storms — typhoons, cyclones and hurricanes — form over the oceans, tornados generally form over the land.

Tornados have a shorter lifespan ranging from a few seconds to a few hours. While the strongest of a storm rarely creates a wind speed of 322 kilometres per hour, a strong tornado can reach up to a speed of 483 kilometres per hour.

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