Q:

How are typhoons made?

A:

Quick Answer

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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Full Answer

During the early stages of cyclone development, rising warm air brings moisture into the upper levels of the atmosphere, creating clouds and feeding a rain system. Once the air cools, it falls outside the central column of rising air, spiraling as it descends. The rising air in the center of a storm creates a low pressure zone, and outside air rushes in to fill it, drawing more energy into the storm system. As long as the surface conditions remain warm and calm, the storm can grow in strength.

Hurricanes, typhoons and tropical cyclones are all essentially the same type of storm. Cyclones that form in the Atlantic and Eastern Pacific are generally called hurricanes, while those that move through the Western Pacific toward Asia are called typhoons. Storms that form in the Indian Ocean are called cyclones. Each type of storm has its own system of names, managed separately from the others.

Typhoons form near the equator, in the Central to Western Pacific, and their rotation tends to draw them westward. Those that form north of the equator curve to the north, affecting countries, such as the Philippines and Japan, while those south of the equator may threaten Australia and New Zealand.

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Related Questions

  • Q:

    How do typhoons form?

    A:

    Like other tropical cyclones, typhoons form when warm, calm ocean waters transfer warmth and moisture to the air above the surface. The air rises into cooler layers of the atmosphere, allowing the water to condense and the air to fall back down. This sets up a convective current that draws moisture and energy into the clouds and causes them to begin to spin.

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  • Q:

    How do tropical storms form?

    A:

    A tropical storm forms when calm, warm ocean waters warm the air above the surface, creating a convection current. Over time, this current draws moisture and warmth into the upper levels of the atmosphere, creating the rotational engine that drives a tropical storm or hurricane. The longer a storm stays in areas of the ocean with favorable conditions, the stronger it will grow.

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  • Q:

    Why do hurricanes form?

    A:

    According to NASA, hurricanes form when warm, calm ocean waters create a rotating convection current in the air above the surface. As the warm, humid air rises, it creates a cloud layer in the cooler regions of the atmosphere, and surface winds blow into the low pressure center. Over time, this air circulation may cause the clouds to rotate, allowing them to draw more moisture and energy from below.

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  • Q:

    Why do hurricanes happen?

    A:

    Hurricanes are caused by the convection currents set up when warm, calm seas heat up the air above the ocean's surface. As the warm, moist air rises, it is replaced by cooler air spiraling down from higher in the atmosphere. This creates a rotating circulation that forms the hurricane.

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