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Hurricanes, typhoons and cyclones: What’s the difference?

  • They are all the same thing: tropical storms.But they are known by different names in different locations.
  • In the North Atlantic Ocean and Northeast Pacific, they are called hurricanes.
  • But if the same type of disturbance takes place in the Northwest Pacific Ocean, it is known as a typhoon.
  • And in the South Pacific and Indian Ocean, cyclone is the correct term.

How storms form?

  • Air rises quickly when it is heated by warm sea water.
  • As the air cools down again it is pushed aside by more warm air rising below it.
  • This cycle causes strong winds. Over the sea, a tropical storm can whip up huge waves.
  • When these waves reach land they can flood large areas, including towns and cities.
  • Over land the strong winds can cause a lot of damage – they can flatten homes, knock over trees and even tip over cars.


What are the different parts of a cyclone’s structure?


The eye

  • The eye of the storm is the centre.It’s a relatively calm space. When the eye passes over an area, winds slow down and everything feels like it has cleared up. The part that comes after the eye usually inflicts the most damage.


The eyewall: 

  • This is where the most effective part of a cyclone rests. The eyewall houses extremely high wind speeds, causing damage to both lives and property. It is a ring of thunderstorms, and changes in the eye or the eyewall affects the storm’s intensity.



  • These are the outer parts of a cyclone where sudden bursts of rain happen. There can also be gaps betwen rainbands where no rain or wind occurs.



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