What is the difference between hurricanes, typhoons and monsoons?

Answer

Tropical storms originating in the Atlantic Ocean are called hurricanes while the same storms originating in the Pacific are called typhoons. Both storms are associated with winds that move in a circular vortex pattern. In contrast, monsoons are heavy rains created by a seasonal increase in temperature. Monsoons move in a straight line pattern.

Monsoons develop as winds are created from seasonal temperature differences between the land and ocean. Warmer air on land rises allowing the cooler, moisture laden ocean air to come in. This drops sometimes torrential rains on an area for long periods of time.

Created by low pressure systems that develop over the ocean, typhoons and hurricanes occur with strong winds and rain. The upward motion of hot air over the sea creates a circulation pattern. This column of air becomes lighter and lower in density. When it combines with a trade wind flowing in the opposite direction, the circulation pattern will increase and create a vortex. The speed of air flow in the low pressure vortex is accelerated and a typhoon or hurricane is formed.

Typhoon season occurs from May to November while hurricane season occurs from June to November. The radius of a typhoon or hurricane can reach up to 300 kilometers. Depending upon the wind speed, both can cause severe damage when they strike land.

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