What is the difference between a cyclone and a hurricane?


Quick Answer

Typhoons, cyclones and hurricanes are all the same type of weather phenomenon; the only difference is the location of the storm, according to the National Ocean Service. In the Atlantic Ocean and northeast Pacific Ocean, the term "hurricane" is used. Cyclones occur in the South Pacific and Indian Oceans, while typhoons are in the northwest Pacific Ocean.

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Full Answer

A tropical storm must reach sustained wind speeds of 74 miles per hour to be classified as a cyclone or hurricane. Meteorologists refer to the storm as an "intense hurricane" at 111 miles per hour. A typhoon with wind speeds above 150 miles per hour is called a "supertyphoon." The eye, or center, of a hurricane or cyclone is usually 30 miles across. Larger storms have eyes as wide as 120 miles. The centers of storms contain areas of low pressure with very warm temperatures and calm winds.

Cyclones generally affect Japan, China and the Philippines in the Pacific Ocean. The United States, Mexico, Cuba and the Bahamas are hit regularly with hurricanes in the Atlantic Ocean. Hurricane season in the Atlantic lasts from June 1 to November 30. Cyclone season in the Pacific lasts from June to December.

The name "hurricane" comes from the Caribbean god of evil known as Hurrican. The term "cyclone" was first used by British meteorologist Henry Piddington in 1848.

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