Correction: Hurricane vs Typhoon story (Update)

Nov 08, 2013
In this image provided by NOAA Friday Nov. 8, 2013 which was taken at 12:30 a.m. EST shows Typhoon Haiyan as it crosses the Philippines. One of the most powerful typhoons ever recorded slammed into the Philippines on Friday, setting off landslides, knocking out power in one entire province and cutting communications in the country's central region of island provinces. Weather officials say that Haiyan had sustained winds at 235 kilometers (147 miles) per hour, with gusts of 275 kph (170 mph) when it made landfall. (AP Photo/NOAA)

A powerful typhoon hit the Philippines on Friday and moved out to the South China Sea:

HURRICANE? CYCLONE? TYPHOON? They're all the same, officially tropical cyclones. But they just use distinctive terms for a storm in different parts of the world. Hurricane is used in the Atlantic, Caribbean Sea, central and northeast Pacific. They are typhoons in the northwest Pacific. In the Bay of Bengal and the Arabia Sea, they are called cyclones. Tropical cyclone is used in the southwest India Ocean; in the southwestern Pacific and southeastern India Ocean they are severe tropical cyclones.

STRENGTH: A storm gets a name and is considered a tropical storm at 39 mph (63 kph). It becomes a hurricane, typhoon, tropical cyclone, or cyclone at 74 mph (119 kph). There are five strength categories, depending on wind speed. The highest category is 5 and that's above 155 mph (249 kph). Australia has a different system for categorizing storm strength.

ROTATION: If they are north of the equator they rotate counterclockwise. If they are south, they rotate clockwise.

SEASON: The Atlantic and central Pacific hurricane seasons are June 1 through Nov. 30. Eastern Pacific: May 15 to Nov. 30; northwestern Pacific season is close to all year, with the most from May to November. The cyclone season in the south Pacific and Australia runs from November to April. The Bay of Bengal has two seasons April to June and September to November.

WHERE IS THE BUSIEST PLACE? The northwestern Pacific where Typhoon Haiyan has just hit. A normal year there involves 27 named storms. Haiyan is the 28th named storm and there has already been a 29th. By comparison the Atlantic averages 11 named storms a year and this year there have been 12, none of them causing major problems.

WHO DECIDES THE NAMES? The lists are maintained by the World Meteorological Organization; the names are ones that are familiar in each region. Names are taken off the list and replaced to avoid confusion if a hurricane causes a lot of damage or deaths. For example, Katrina was retired after it devastated New Orleans in 2005. The Philippines has its own naming system, so Typhoon Haiyan is also being called Yolanda.

HOW DOES EL NINO AFFECT STORMS? During an El Nino—when the central Pacific is warming—there are fewer Atlantic storms. El Ninos shift where storms form, but not the number, for the northwest Pacific and the southwest Pacific. The central Pacific gets more storms during El Nino and the year after. This year has neither an El Nino nor its opposite, a La Nina. It is a neutral year.

SOURCES: World Meteorological Organization, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Weather Underground.

Explore further: Satellite views early Thanksgiving travel trouble areas in US

4.5 /5 (4 votes)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

NOAA trims forecast for busy hurricane season

Aug 08, 2013

This Atlantic hurricane season may not be quite as busy as U.S. forecasters once thought, but they still warn of an unusually active and potentially dangerous few months to come.

NASA video shows birth and death of Tropical Storm Sonia

Nov 04, 2013

Tropical Storm Sonia formed on Friday, Nov. 1 from the eighteenth tropical depression of the Eastern Pacific Ocean hurricane season. Sonia became a tropical storm on Nov. 2 and by Nov. 4 made landfall in western Mexico. Sonia's ...

Recommended for you

Better forecasts for sea ice under climate change

4 hours ago

University of Adelaide-led research will help pinpoint the impact of waves on sea ice, which is vulnerable to climate change, particularly in the Arctic where it is rapidly retreating.

"Ferrari of space' yields best map of ocean currents

12 hours ago

A satellite dubbed the "Ferrari of space" has yielded the most accurate model of ocean circulation yet, boosting understanding of the seas and a key impact of global warming, scientists said Tuesday.

Researcher studies deformation of tectonic plates

15 hours ago

Sean Bemis put his hands together side by side to demonstrate two plates of the earth's crust with a smooth boundary running between them. But that boundary is not always smooth and those plates do not always ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.