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Adam Wright
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(Thursday) 8.23.12

Typhoon vs Hurricane

Joey Asked: What’s the difference between s hurricane and a typhoon?

Adam Wright – Solspot Forecaster:

They are actually the same thing (a tropical storm)…but they have different names in other parts of the world….they also get classified differently depending on which country’s weather service sending out the updates. If it the NWS, or US National Hurricane Center then the same categories (Tropical Depression, Tropical Storm, and then the 1-5 strength categories will be the same as our hurricane system).

Around Japan, and the Western North Pacific, these tropical systems are called Typhoons.

In the US, both West and East Coast call them Hurricanes.

Australia calls them Cyclones. (While the other governments around the Indian Ocean refer to them as cyclonic storms…or super cyclonic if they are big and nasty).

But again even with the names being different they all share the same basic characteristics.

1. They form in the tropics

2. They require warm moist air (and warm ocean water to create the air-mass) to power the convection to create the “spin” and eyewall formation.

3. They only form under specific atmospheric conditions, and while their wind speeds are intense they are relatively fragile compared to other non-tropical storms.

4. They are much smaller in size, and they generate a smaller swell-producing fetch than the big extra-tropical frontal storms that we see at the higher latitudes. (They make up for their size issues by being more intense, and usually much closer to shore, particularly on the western sides of the various ocean basins.)

There are a lot of other tropical storm traits, but when you get right down to it, typhoon, cyclone, hurricane…they are all the same, they just form in different parts of the world, and the locals have a different name for them.

  • joey

    Thx for replying Adam. You’re like the ocean Google.


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