No doubt you’ve heard the terms hurricane, typhoon, and cyclone thrown around to describe a severe storm originating far out on the ocean. What you may not have known is that the three terms actually refer to the same weather phenomenon. The variation in terminology comes primarily from different geographical locales. The Atlantic region is more familiar and prone to use the term ‘hurricane’, whereas the Northwest Pacific used ‘typhoon’, and the South Pacific and Indian Ocean regions prefer ‘cyclone’. Of course, the terms themselves are interchangeable, but essentially refer to the same weather occurrence.
The conditions for these storms to occur have to be right and persist long enough to create the effects associated with hurricanes, typhoons, or cyclones–whichever term you prefer. Conditions like warm, tropical oceans, high moisture, light winds, and existing weather disturbances combine to produce the massive waves, severe winds, torrential rains, and flooding associated with the storms once they break land.
The oceanic and atmospheric conditions for these storms develop gradually across the open sea, gather strength, and eventually strike land.
The differences in terminology shouldn’t lead you to believe that these storm systems are any less destructive. The potential devastation carried by the fierce winds, lashing rains, and flooding is serious and should be prepared for well in advance of a storm striking land. Different geographical locations are affected differently by what are essentially the same storms. Strength of the storm upon landfall, infrastructure and community preparedness, and the availability and preparation of emergency services are all factors that will help determine the overall devastation of the hurricane, typhoon, or cyclone after hitting land.
Preparation for these storms should involve the same actions: monitoring conditions, protection the exterior of your home, taking precautions for flooding, and considering evacuation if the storm is expected to be extremely bad. Comprehensive planning in anticipation of a storm is the best form of preparedness. Depending on the region, oceanic storm season occurs at different times of year, though many storms can and have occurred outside of the typical season. For the Atlantic region, hurricane season runs from the beginning of June through late November. This is when the highest concentration of severe weather and the highest potential for hurricanes to strike land occur. Though some 97 percent of hurricanes happen between these months, devastating storms can occur beyond this 6 month period.