Q:

What is the difference between hurricanes, typhoons and monsoons?

A:

Quick 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.

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Full Answer

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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Related Questions

  • Q:

    Why do we have hurricanes?

    A:

    Hurricanes form over warm ocean water when the air is cooler above. Winds must be at the surface of the ocean and spiral air inward for the hurricane to form.

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  • Q:

    How big are hurricanes?

    A:

    On average, a hurricane measures 100 miles in diameter. The eye of the average-sized hurricane measures 30 miles in diameter. A hurricane is measured using the diameter of the hurricane and the wind speeds that it reaches.

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  • Q:

    Where do typhoons mostly occur?

    A:

    Typhoons occur most often in the far western Pacific Ocean. They tend to form east of Guam and track west towards Taiwan before heading north and northeast towards Japan. This region is colloquially referred to as "typhoon alley." Typhoons strike the Philippines more often than any other nation.

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  • Q:

    How are typhoons made?

    A:

    Tropical cyclones, including hurricanes and typhoons, form when calm, warm ocean waters set up a spiraling convection current in the air above the surface. As warm, moist air rises, cooler air moves in to replace it, creating a rotation that eventually builds into a powerful cyclone.

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