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What is the difference between a hurricane and cyclone?

A:

Quick Answer

A hurricane occurs in the Atlantic and Northeast Pacific, while a cyclone occurs in the South Pacific and Indian Ocean. Other than this distinction, there is no other difference between hurricanes and cyclones, as these two weather events are identical in formation and destructive potential.

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Full Answer

In addition to hurricanes and cyclones, the term typhoon is used to describe the same weather phenomenon in the Northwest Pacific. These forces of nature occur when a series of weather issues or anomalies combine. Warm tropical oceans, moisture and fairly light winds combining with a pre-existing weather condition cause hurricanes, cyclones and typhoons.

When these conditions persist for long periods of time, they combine to create the dramatic events one often associates with typhoons, hurricanes and cyclones. These events might include devastating floods, dangerous winds and torrential downpours.

Hurricane season in the Atlantic begins on June 1 and continues through November 30. Though approximately 97 percent of all hurricanes occur within this time frame, a hurricane could occur — and has — at other times of the year.

Some of the most devastating natural catastrophes in the United States have been a result of hurricanes, including Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and Hurricane Andrew in 1992.

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