What’s the Weather: Hurricane, typhoon, cyclone differences

Weather Authority University

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — The tropics have been a popular topic of conversation lately, especially with Tropical Storm Nepartak impacting the Tokyo Olympics earlier this week.

In fact, we’ve been in Atlantic Basin Hurricane Season since June 1, and tropical activity has been ramping up. 

With all the tropical talk, words like “hurricane”, “typhoon”, and “cyclone” have been thrown around.

All three of those terms are classified under the category of “tropical cyclone”.

What’s the difference between hurricane, typhoon and cyclone?

The answer is: geography!

In the Atlantic Ocean, and the Eastern Pacific Ocean (essentially, anywhere along the coasts of North and South America), a tropical cyclone with wind speeds of 74 mph or more is called a hurricane.

In the Northwestern Pacific Ocean, that same category of storm is called a typhoon, and in the Southern Pacific Ocean, and Indian Ocean, it’s simply referred to as a cyclone. 

While it may seem misleading, the term “tropical storm”, is different from the three previous terms.

Tropical storm is used no matter the location, and describes a storm in which the wind speeds fall between 39-73 mph. 

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