What Is the Difference Between a Monsoon and a Hurricane?

A monsoon is a seasonal reversal of wind, while a hurricane is an organized storm with very low pressure. Monsoons typically occur in Southeast Asia and Australia, as well as Western Africa. By contrast, hurricanes occur in both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans and affect Eastern Asia and both coasts of North America.

Monsoons occur because of a strong difference in temperature between the land and the ocean. Monsoons are regular, repeating events that cause the climate in afflicted areas to fluctuate between very dry and very wet. This causes areas that are subject to monsoons to bounce back and forth between a very dry season with little vegetative growth and a very wet season, in which the plants grow quickly and more pervasively.

Hurricanes are tropical depressions that eventually develop winds with speeds that are in excess of 74 miles per hour. The most common hurricanes form in the South Atlantic Ocean and progress across the sea. Eventually, hurricanes may reach land and cause serious destruction. In addition to high winds, hurricanes also carry considerable amounts of rain, lightening and hail. Hurricanes occur more frequently in the summer, but they also occur sporadically, unlike the regular occurrence of monsoons.