Cyclones cause widespread flooding and wind damage. Flood damage results from the combination of torrential rain, which overwhelms the soil’s ability to absorb it, and storm surges, which force significant quantities of water up onto the shore in front of the storm. Wind damage results from the straight-line winds produced by the cyclone and tornadoes that the cyclone spawns.
Cyclones are large areas of very low pressure. They're often called hurricanes when they occur in the Atlantic Ocean and typhoons when they occur in the Pacific Ocean. When viewed from above, cyclones produce spiral bands of arms that radiate from a central vortex. Meteorologists name cyclones to avoid confusion when more than one low-pressure system exists in a single ocean basin. The names associated with particularly destructive or deadly cyclones are often retired when the storm dies.
To qualify as hurricane-force, winds must maintain speeds of 74 miles per hour or higher. Such speeds can topple trees and send small objects hurling through the air, where they can cause more damage. Some particularly strong hurricanes have produced wind speeds in excess of 200 miles per hour. Cyclones of such strength can blow houses off of their foundations and strip siding and shingles.