Cyclones, also known as hurricanes or typhoons, are primarily caused by high ocean temperatures, broad-scale wind systems and clustered thunderstorms, which liberate the heat energy from the ocean surface and transfer it to the cyclone. Ocean temperatures must be higher than 80 degrees Fahrenheit to a depth of at least 150 feet.Know More
This heat from the ocean combines with the Earth's rotation to create the cyclone's spin and propulsion. As the cyclone moves across cooler waters, land or into unfavorable wind systems, it gradually begins to dissipate as it loses energy.
There are a number of additional atmospheric conditions that must be present in order for a cyclone to form, including moisture layers in the mid-troposphere, approximately 3 miles above the Earth's surface, and low vertical wind shear between the Earth's surface and the upper troposphere. Cyclones also need to be at least 310 miles from the equator, where the deflective Coriolis force of the planet's rotation begins to take effect.
Depending on the caliber of these conditions, a cyclone's center, or eye, can grow to be more than 62 miles in diameter, although 25 miles is more typical.
A cyclone's severity is measured on a 5-point scale, ranging from Category 1, which have gales of between 56-78 kilometers per hour causing possible damage to trees and lightweight structures, to Category 5, which have very destructive winds of up to 173 miles per hour, causing widespread destruction and loss of life.Learn more about Storms
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.Full Answer >
Hurricanes form in the open ocean, with the majority coming together in the western Pacific Ocean or the eastern Atlantic, off the coast of Africa. A smaller number form in the Gulf of Mexico or the Indian Ocean each year. Hurricanes require calm, warm ocean waters to set up the convective current that gives the storm its rotational power and allows it to build into a powerful cyclone.Full Answer >
Hurricanes are dangerous because they have high winds, torrential rains and storm surges. Individually, these dangers can pose a threat to one's life and damage property, but they can cause widespread destruction when the forces are combined.Full Answer >
According to NASA, the primary method of categorizing hurricanes is by sustained wind speed. When a tropical disturbance forms, it may grow into a tropical depression, tropical storm or a hurricane, depending on how strong its winds become. If a storm reaches hurricane strength, meteorologists may place it in one of five categories depending on its wind speeds. A storm's categorization may change many times during its lifespan.Full Answer >