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Hurricane versus Typhoon
We probably have heard about Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans or Typhoon Usagi in Japan. These names appear so different and distinct from each other. They are probably the most confusing names that most of us cannot separate. In fact, the two words mean one and the same thing since they are all types of tropical cyclones. To understand the names, it is good to understand what a cyclone is. A cyclone is any accumulation of air that twirls around a low pressure zone. It is characterized by several thunderstorms embedded in a swilling accumulation of air. Despite the fact that a Hurricane and a Typhoon are both strong tropical cyclones, they differ in the location where they occur. Typhoons are tropical cyclones occurring in the west pacific, while those occurring in the Atlantic and east Pacific Ocean are referred to as Hurricanes.
Hurricanes and Typhoons have many similarities. They both rotate clockwise in the southern hemisphere and anticlockwise in the northern hemisphere. Typhoons and Hurricanes are also characterized by heavy winds, storm surge, floods, rain and tornadoes. In addition, they normally occur in warm areas. The average Hurricane eye (the still point where pressure is minimal and air temperature is optimal) extends 30 miles across, with some of them stretching up to 120 miles wide (Than N.P). The ingredients necessary for a typhoon or a hurricane to occur is simply the same. They entail pre-existing weather commotion, moisture, warm tropical oceans and relatively light winds. If the perfect condition prevails for an adequate period of time, they can combine and the outcome is strong winds, torrential rains, incredible waves and floods that are usually linked to the typhoon or hurricane phenomenon (National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration N.D).
Hurricanes and Typhoons have been linked with human causes of global warming. Theoretically, rise in the atmospheric temperatures result to warmer sea surface temperatures that consequently support the formation of stronger cyclones (hurricanes and typhoons). This can be evidenced by the fact that, the occurrence of Category 4 and 5 hurricanes in the world almost doubled from the early 1970s to early 2000s. In addition, both the duration and the intensity of the speeds of wind have increased by almost half over the last 50 years. According to Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Report 2012, the average tropical cyclone optimal speed is projected to increase.
Whereas Atlantic Hurricane season starts from 1[st] June to 30[th] November, Typhoons follow a somewhat different pattern. In northeastern Pacific, Typhoons start from late June to December. Nevertheless typhoons have been known to occur outside this six months period, despite most of tropical activities occurring during this period.
In regard to location, Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory consider a typhoon and a hurricane as just different names used for a tropical cyclones (Hurricane Center N.P). As a general principle, generally, a hurricane is a cyclone that occurs in the North Pacific Ocean or North Atlantic Ocean east of the International Date Line, or the South Pacific Ocean east of 160E characterized by sustained winds exceeding 74 miles per hour. Typhoons on the other hand occur in Northwest Pacific Ocean on the west side of the International Date Line also characterized with sustained winds which exceed 74 miles per hour.
Further differences in these cyclones are evident in other parts of the world. In Southeast Indian ocean east of 90E or Southwest Pacific Ocean west of 160E, cyclones that are referred to as typhoons or hurricanes are termed as `severe tropical cyclones` while `severe cyclonic storm` is used in the North Indian Ocean. In Southwest Indian Ocean, the term `tropical cyclone` is used to describe typhoons or hurricanes (Hurricane Center N.P).
In instances where the maximum sustained surface winds speeds of tropical cyclones is below 39 miles per hour, it is called a tropical depression. When the speed of a tropical cyclone is in between 39 miles per hour and 74 miles per hour, it is referred to as a tropical storm. When this speed surpasses the 74 miles per hour mark, it qualifies to be termed as a typhoon or a hurricane depending on the location it has happened (Hurricane Center N.P).
On intensity, hurricanes are grouped into five based on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale. The speed of wind and the extensiveness of damage rise from category 1 to 5 in this scale. On the other hand, Typhoons are usually very intense due to the Pacific`s warm water and are hence more frequent and occur mostly in the Caribbean Sea. They are as well categorized in regard to the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale although they can also be categorized on the Japan Meteorological Agency Typhoon Scale. They are common in South East Asia and China Sea. The strongest storms categorized at 5 on the Sarrif-Simpson Scale have sustained winds of over 155 miles per hour.
Hurricanes are less frequent and occur about 10 to 15 times in a year while Typhoons are more frequent and occur about 25 to 30 times in a year. With the use of computer and satellite models, cyclones, typhoons or hurricanes can be predicted long in advance and are quite easy to track. However, the recent Hurricane Sandy proved that, foretelling the path that a cyclone, hurricane or typhoon will take after it is formed is still complicated.
Typhoons and Hurricanes both cause havoc and destruction to lives and property. Regardless of their location, the two cyclones can be really destructive especially when their intensity is high on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale. The presence of early warning system can help people avoid loss of death and or destruction of property by vacating and moving properties like cars. The incidents such as Hurricane Katrina and Typhoon Usagi in Japan are examples of what hurricanes or typhoons can do.
In conclusion, hurricanes and typhoons are names that are used to refer to tropical cyclones occurring in different locations. Typhoons are tropical cyclones occurring in the west pacific, while those occurring in the Atlantic and east Pacific Ocean are referred to as Hurricanes. The occurrence of hurricanes and typhoons is facilitated by violent winds, strong storms, rain, and high atmospheric temperatures. Typhoons usually occur in the Asian Pacific while Hurricanes mostly occur in the Caribbean Sea. The effect of global warming is believed to contribute to frequency and intensity of hurricane and typhoons as warm temperatures are a perfect ingredient for their formation.
Works Cited
Hurricane Center. What is the Difference Between a Hurricane and a Typhoon? Web. 16/05/11. http://www.hurricanecenter.com/hurricane-information/what-is-the-difference-between-a-hurricane-and-a-typhoon/, 5/11/13.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, (NOAA). The only difference between a hurricane, a cyclone, and a typhoon is the location where the storm occurs. 11/01/13. Web. http://oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/cyclone.html, 5/11/13.
Than, Ker. Typhoon, Hurricane, Cyclone: What`s the Difference? 23/09/13. Web. National Geographic. 5/11/13.

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