What Is a Super Typhoon?

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A super typhoon is a storm that sees wind speeds of at least 150 miles per hour for a minimum of one minute, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Such a storm is the equivalent of a category 5 hurricane in the Atlantic basin or a severe tropical cyclone in the Australian basin. The U.S. Joint Typhoon Warning Center coined the term "super typhoon."

Meteorologists and other weather experts refer to powerful storms originating in the western Pacific and southeastern Indian oceans as typhoons, and powerful storms originating in the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea and northeast Pacific Ocean as hurricanes.

A tropical cyclone must reach sustained wind speeds of 74 miles per hour to become a typhoon. All typhoons rotate counter-clockwise in the northern hemisphere and clockwise in the southern hemisphere. Most clockwise-rotating storms occur off the Australian coast and in the Indian Ocean.

Super Typhoon Haiyan, which devastated the Philippines, is the strongest known super typhoon to ever occur. The storm brought wind speeds of 195 miles per hour with gusts as high as 235 miles per hour. The Philippines tends to experience six or seven typhoons each year but had never seen anything of that magnitude.