Categories: Facts

What is a Tropical Cyclone and where do Cyclones occur?

Tropical Cyclones

Strangely enough, cyclones are always tropical, even if they discharge in Russia or Patagonia.

The reason is that these violent and enormous storms can reach a thousand kilometers in diameter. I mean, the size of France! They only form in tropical areas.

In meteorology, a cyclone, a typhoon and a hurricane define the same phenomenon, and they differ simply in the geographical place where they form.

It is on the warm seas that the masses of hot and cold air collide, giving rise to them.
When the temperature exceeds 26°C, the sea undergoes a strong evaporation. This hot, very humid and light air rises and forms a huge mass of air that moves around.

By the way, cyclones, hurricanes, and typhoons are the same thing: depending on where they are born, they are called by one name or another.

Hurricanes, for example, are the names given to tropical cyclones in the United States and the Antilles. While in Asia they are called typhoons.

What is a Tropical Cyclone

The Tropical Cyclones. They are a special class of large rotating wind systems and have unique atmospheric circulation characteristics, completely different from the typical mid-latitude cyclonic systems and smaller-scale tornadoes, sea storms and dust eddies.

Main characteristics

Cyclones form and intensify when they are located on tropical or subtropical oceans in both hemispheres, where the rotation force of the earth (Coriolis) is strong enough to initiate the rotation movement around the low-pressure center and whose surface water temperatures are 27° C or warmer.

The parent regions are not stable in terms of location, as this is due to the position of the centres of maximum maritime warming, which in turn are influenced by the cold California currents and the warm equatorial countercurrent in the Pacific Ocean.

Conditions for its formation of Cyclones

Tropical cyclones form over warm waters of the tropical or subtropical zone from pre-existing disturbances, which consist of areas of instability, such as tropical waves.

They may also form in the area of instability at the southern end of a cold front and sometimes from areas of low cold core pressure (cold lows) in the upper atmosphere.

There are at least three conditions that are completely necessary for the formation of a tropical cyclone and its development in a hurricane:

A pre-existing disturbance: a large area of cloud cover with rain, rain showers, and thunderstorms.

Warm ocean water temperature: 26.6°C or higher, to a depth of at least 45 meters.
Winds in the upper atmosphere: weak and not changing much direction and speed through the high atmosphere.

Evolution of a tropical cyclone

The evolution of a tropical cyclone can be divided into the following four stages:

Birth (tropical depression): first an atmospheric depression is formed, characterized by the wind starting to increase on the surface with a maximum speed (average in one minute) of 62 km/h or less, the clouds begin to organize and the pressure drops to about 1000 hpa (hectopascals).

Development (tropical storm): The tropical depression grows or develops and acquires the characteristic of a tropical storm, which means that the wind continues to increase at a maximum speed of between 63 and 117 km/h.

Even the clouds are distributed in a spiral shape and a small eye begins to form, almost always in a circular shape, and the pressure is reduced to less than 1000 hPa.

It is at this stage that it is named after a list drawn up by the World Meteorological Organization (Hurricane Committee).

Classification of tropical cyclones

Tropical cyclones are classified according to the speed at which they reach their maximum sustained winds (averaged over one minute), as follows: Tropical depression: maximum sustained winds of less than 63 kilometers per hour.

Tropical storm: maximum sustained winds between 63 and 117 kilometers per hour. Hurricane: maximum sustained winds exceeding 117 kilometers per hour.

What is a typhoon?

The concept of a typhoon is used in the field of meteorology to refer to the hurricane that forms in the ocean or, more precisely, in the China Sea. A hurricane, on the other hand, is a strong wind that produces whirlwinds.

Typhoons can be associated with tropical cyclones. In this case, it is a storm that provokes rain and winds of considerable intensity, generating consequences such as floods and very large waves at sea.

Definition of Hurricane:

The hurricane is a cyclonic disturbance of variable area with a very low atmospheric pressure center”the eye” around which high-velocity winds blow.

It is also the result of variable atmospheric phenomena, as well as containing a cumulative amount of clouds and torrential rainfall that are rarely seen individually.

Extreme winds, a Tropical Cyclone will be called a hurricane when its average sustained winds during one minute are equal to or greater than 118 km/h.

In fact, the term”hurricane” is a word from the Caribbean, where the ancient Indians of the Arawak language group called it Hunraken, is the name given to well-organized tropical cyclones in the Atlantic Ocean and Eastern Pacific.

Hurricane Categories and Damage

When it lands, the impact of a hurricane is usually severe.
The Saffir-Simpson scale was created to measure the strength of hurricanes in the Americas and is increasingly used to categorize cyclones and typhoons, although some regions use other scales.

The category gives us an indication of the damage it can cause.

Category 1 (between 119 km/h and 153 km/h)

  1. Minor flooding
  2. Slight structural damage
  3. Flood: between 1.2 meters and 1.5 meters higher than normal

Category 2 (between 154 km/h and 177 km/h)

  1. Damage to ceilings
  2. Damage to some trees
  3. Flood: between 1.8 and 2.4 meters higher than normal

Category 3 (between 178 km/h and 209 km/h)

  1. Damaged homes
  2. Severe flooding
  3. Flood: between 2.5 meters and 3.7 meters higher than normal)

Category 4 (between 210 km/h and 249 km/h)

  1. Some roofs completely destroyed
  2. Significant structural damage to homes
  3. Flood: between 4 meters and 5.5 meters above normal.

Category 5 (over 250 km/h)

  1. Seriously damaged buildings
  2. Major flooding already off the coast
  3. Flood: greater than 5.5 meters above normal

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