Tropical Cyclone

What is it?

In simple words, a tropical cyclone is a rapidly rotating storm system that produces heavy rain with strong wind and a spiral arrangement of thunderstorms. Usually, these are formed over warm ocean waters at low latitudes. A cyclone is referred to by many different names depending on its location and strength. Some of the most common names are a hurricane, typhoon, tropical depression, cyclonic storm, and cyclone.

The Places that change the names

A map of the world naming the areas of the different types of cyclones

Source: Weebly

Hurricane is used in the north-eastern Pacific Ocean and in the Atlantic Ocean.  Typhoon is used in the north-western Pacific Ocean. Tropical Cyclone is used in the South Pacific and the Indian Ocean. A fact about tropical cyclones, they are typically formed over large bodies of warm water. All their energy comes from the evaporation of water from the ocean surface. Finally, heavy rain takes place because of the condensed clouds.  This energy is very different from that of mid-latitude cyclonic storms that get energy from horizontal temperature contrasts.

The tropical cyclones are typically between 100 km and 2,000 km in diameter. The word tropical refers to the geographical origin of these systems. They form almost exclusively over the tropical seas.  Whereas the word cyclone refers to their cyclonic nature or the circular motion of the wind blowing counterclockwise

Bare trees and damaged houses and land from a tropical cyclone

Feb 2015 damage from a cyclone Source: ABC

in the Northern Hemisphere and clockwise in the Southern Hemisphere. The main reason for the opposite direction is the Coriolis Effect.

What happens to a cyclone when it hits land?

Besides causing intense rains and winds, tropical cyclones are capable of generating high waves, tornadoes, and damaging storm surge. When the tropical cyclones reach the land, they start losing their strength being cut off from their primary energy source. That is the reason why coastal regions are vulnerable to damage by a tropical cyclone as compared to the inland regions.

The fact that tropical cyclones lose their strength does not apply to heavy rains. These substantial rains can cause inland flooding and result in hefty damage to the lives and the property. The storm can affect up to 40 kilometers from the coastline. Besides the damages caused by the tropical cyclones, there are also some benefits to them. Tropical cyclones transfer all the heat to temperature latitudes and play their part in balancing regional as well as global climate.

In the past, many tropical cyclones have caused severe damage to the lives and properties of the people living in coastal areas. It may cause shipwrecks and discontinue ship operation thus causing a lot of damage to the economy of the relevant country as well. However, after the cyclone sets, it leaves behind a cool wake which makes the region less favorable for cyclones.

If a cyclone loses its strength in the land areas, there are chances that when it enters the coastal areas or above the ocean, they may gain the power to form extra-tropical cyclone which is more powerful as compared to normal cyclones.


Image Resource: Featured Image

Share This