Hurricanes, cyclones and typhoons are all the same type of weather event but different terms are used to refer to them depending on which part of the world they occur in. Hurricanes, cyclones and typhoons are rotating storms centred around an area of low atmospheric pressure.
Despite referring to the same weather phenomenon, the words 'hurricane', 'cyclone' and 'typhoon' cannot be used interchangeably.
A 'hurricane' is an intense low pressure system arising in the Atlantic or Northeast Pacific, a 'typhoon' is an identical disturbance in the Northwest Pacific while a 'cyclone' is the same event originating in the South Pacific or Indian Ocean.
Hurricane? Cyclone? Typhoon? What are they?
The phenomenon these terms describe occurs when an area of low pressure causes winds to spiral inwards producing thunderstorms and heavy rain.
They gain energy when water is evaporated from the ocean's surface and recondenses into clouds as it hits the cool air. The earth's rotation causes the storms to spin.
Conditions can be brutal on ground level: Destructive winds, heavy rain, flooding and high winds can all result from the event.
In the Atlantic and Northeast Pacific, hurricane season officially runs from 1 June to 30 November, with 3% of hurricanes occuring outside this period.
What is an anticyclone?
If hurricanes, cyclones and typhoons occur in the Northern Hemisphere, they rotate anti-clockwise but if they occur in the Southern Hemisphere they rotate clockwise
Anticyclones rotate in the opposite direction in both hemispheres. This is because they are systems of storms rotating around an area of high atmospheric pressure.
What is a tropical cyclone?
A 'tropical cyclone' is a term that describes rotating a system of storms and thunderstorms similar to hurricanes, cyclones and typhoons but not as powerful. Tropical cyclones can originate anywhere in the world. However, once a tropical cyclone's sustained wind speeds exceed 73mph (118kph), it becomes a hurricane, cyclone or typhoon depending on where it is.