MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Hurricanes, typhoon, cyclones, you hear meteorologist talk about these storms but what are the actual difference between the three? In this episode of the Breakdown, we will explain how each system gains its name.
Location, location, location. That really is it! The location of the tropical cyclone is what determines if it is a hurricane or a typhoon or even a cyclone.
Tropical cyclones are a generic term used by meteorologist to describe a rotating, organized system of clouds and thunderstorms that originates over tropical or subtropical waters and has a closed, low-level circulation.
The weakest tropical cyclone is called tropical depressions. If a depression intensifies such that its maximum sustained winds reach 39 miles per hour, the tropical cyclone becomes a tropical storm.
Once tropical cyclones reach maximum sustained winds of 74 mph or hither, then it is classified as a hurricane, typhoon, or tropical cyclone, depending upon where the storm originates.
In the North Atlantic, central North Pacific, and eastern North Pacific, the term hurricane is used. The same type of disturbance in the Northwest Pacific is called a typhoon.
Meanwhile, in the South Pacific and the Indian Ocean, the generic term tropical cyclone is used, regardless of the strength of the wind associated with the weather system.
The ingredients for tropical cyclones including a pre-existing weather disturbance, warm tropical oceans, moisture, and relatively light winds.
Like we have seen before, if the right conditions persist long enough, they can combine to produce violent winds, large waves, torrential rains, and floods we associate with tropical systems.