A Typhoon is an intense cyclone that forms in the western part of the North Pacific Ocean between 180° and 100°E Longitude.

The North Pacific Ocean is known as the Northwestern Pacific Basin which is the most active tropical cyclone basin on Earth. A typhoon is only different from a cyclone and hurricane based on the location. The storm is called a hurricane when it occurs in the Atlantic Ocean or Northeastern Pacific Ocean, and a cyclone or tropical cyclone occurs in the Indian Ocean or South Pacific. Typhoon in Greek means ‘god of wind’ because it is characterized by powerful winds.

Enough warm sea surface temperatures, high humidity in the lower to middle levels of troposphere, unstable atmosphere, sufficient Coriolis force to form a low-pressure center, existing low-level focus, and low vertical wind shear are six basic requirements for a typhoon to develop. These conditions though do not guarantee the formation of typhoons. The rotation effect of the storm is generated by the earth which causes the system to twist in the anti-clockwise instead of clockwise direction.

Although typhoons can occur at any time of the year, peak typhoon season is usually from July to October.

The Philippines, eastern and southern coasts of China, Taiwan, Vietnam, the Korean peninsula, and Japan and are areas hit worse by typhoons. One of the recent deadly typhoons includes Typhoon Fengshen in June 2008, which thousands were reported dead in the Philippines.

Typhoon paths

  • Straight track – A general westward path affects the Philippines, southern China, Taiwan, and Vietnam.
  • A parabolic, recurving track – Recurving affects the eastern Philippines, east China, Taiwan, Korea, Japan, and also the Russian Far East.
  • Northward track – When the storm follows a northerly direction, it can only affect small islands.

A “tropical depression” is a term used for a tropical system that has wind speeds not exceeding 33 knots (38 mph; 61 km/h)[1]. Once the cyclone reaches winds of at least 34 knots (39 mph; 63km/h), it is typically called a “tropical storm, ” and the storm is assigned a name by RSMC Tokyo. If the Typhoon intensifies to hit 48 knots (55mph; 89km/h), the storm is seen as a severe “tropical storm.” When the system reaches the maximum wind speed of 64 knots (74 mph; 119 km/h), a tropical cyclone becomes a typhoon which is the highest category on its scale. In 2009, the Hong Kong Observatory further divided typhoons into three different classes; Typhoon, Severe Typhoon, and Super Typhoon.

The Regional Specialized Meteorological Center (RSMC), is a tropical cyclone forecast center in Japan, other tropical cyclone warning centers for the northwest Pacific are in Hawaii (the Joint Typhoon Warning Center), the Philippines and Hong Kong.

Names for typhoons are decided in advance by a typhoon committee, consisting of 18 countries that have territories threatened by typhoons each year.[2] Only the Philippines use their own naming list for tropical cyclones mainly national news. Typhoons are not named after people like tropical cyclones in other parts of the world. Rather, they are referred to as animals, astrological signs, and flowers.  PAGASA keeps a personal listing which sometimes consists of human names.

[1] Typhoon – Wikipedia. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tropical_cyclone_in_Philippines

[2][2] Typhoon – Wikipedia. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Super_typhoons

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