Difference between Cyclones and Typhoons

Key Difference: A cyclone is an area of closed, circular fluid motion rotating in the same direction as the Earth. A typhoon is a mature tropical cyclone and is a sub-type of cyclone. It mostly occurs in the northwestern part of the Pacific Ocean between 180° and 100°E. Similar phenomena that affect the eastern north Pacific are known as Hurricanes.

Cyclones, hurricanes and typhoons, such terms can confuse anyone. However, all these terms are really similar with select differences. The term hurricane and typhoon are different names used for the same phenomena in different areas, and slightly are different from cyclones. Let’s take a look at the definition for these oceanic phenomena.

A cyclone is generally defined in meteorology as an area of closed, circular fluid motion rotating in the same direction as the Earth. It has a high pressure outside and a low pressure inside. The center of the cyclone is usually known as an eye and has the lowest atmospheric pressure. A tropical cyclone (one that occurs in tropical areas) usually feeds on the heat that is released when moist air rises, resulting in condensation of water vapor.

Depending on the size and intensity of the cyclone, wind speed can range anywhere from 32mph to 157mph. Different types of cyclones include extratropical, subtropical, and tropical; cyclones can transition between these phases given the right conditions. Cyclones are considered to be as oceanic phenomena, as they can die out on lands due to loss of moisture, but they still manage to cause destruction due to wind and rain. A cyclone has a diameter on the scale of hundreds of kilometers and is comprised of several to dozens of convective storms. A cyclone also has the potential to develop into a tornado.

A typhoon is a mature tropical cyclone and is a sub-type of cyclone. It mostly occurs in the northwestern part of the Pacific Ocean between 180° and 100°E. Similar phenomena that affect the eastern north Pacific are known as Hurricanes. Typhoons are characterized by heavy rain and strong winds. They cause damage through winds, high waves, flooding.

In order for a tropical cyclone to form and sustain, it requires conditions such as sufficiently warm sea surface temperatures, high humidity in the lower to middle levels of the troposphere, atmospheric instability, enough Coriolis force to develop a low pressure center, a pre-existing low level focus or disturbance, and low vertical wind shear. However, these are favorable condition; it does not guarantee tropical storms will form.

Cyclones and typhoons can be determined using Pulse-Doppler radars and their strength can be determined using scales such as the Beaufort scale and Saffir-Simpson scale, though scales may differ according to countries.

 

Cyclone

Typhoons

Definition

A Cyclone is an area of closed, circular fluid motion rotating in the same direction as the Earth. Most circulations are centered on areas of low atmospheric pressure. Mostly take place on water

A typhoon is a mature tropical cyclone that develops in the northwestern part of the Pacific Ocean and mostly affects Asia.

Composition

Air, water, moisture, pressure

Air, water, moisture, pressure

Shape

Closed, circular fluid motion. The center is known as an eye

Closed, circular fluid motion. The center is known as an eye

Types

Extratropical cyclones, Subtropical cyclones and Tropical cyclones

Typhoon is a type of tropical cyclone

Speed

Tropical Cyclones can range anywhere from 32 mph to 157 mph

Wind speeds can range from 39mph to 120mph

Rotation

Clockwise in the Southern Hemisphere; counter-clockwise in the Northern Hemisphere

Counterclockwise

Most affected areas

Pacific Ocean

South East Asia, China Sea etc.

Scale for Measurement

Beaufort Scale and Saffir-Simpson scale and may vary in different countries

Beaufort Scale and Saffir-Simpson scale and may vary in different countries

Size

Has a diameter on the scale of hundreds of kilometers

Has a diameter of on the scale of hundreds of kilometers

How are they formed

Comprised of several to dozens of convective storms

A broad surface front, or an outflow boundary, a low level feature with sufficient vorticity and convergence is required to begin tropical cyclogenesis.

Location

Tropical zone, over warm waters in the Atlantic and Pacific ocean

Northwest Pacific Ocean west of the International Date Line

Required Condition

Require very low values of tropospheric vertical shear in order to form and grow, and generated in regions of near zero horizontal temperature gradient

Sufficiently warm sea surface temperatures, atmospheric instability, high humidity in the lower to middle levels of the troposphere, enough Coriolis force to develop a low pressure center, a pre-existing low level focus or disturbance, and low vertical wind shear.

Life

Days

Days

Image Courtesy: hardenup.org, web-japan.org

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