As we continue to see the horrific images coming in from the Philippines from Typhoon Haiyan, the question has been brought up, how is a Typhoon different from a Hurricane? The answer is, nothing is different except the name!
Different parts of the world have different names for tropical systems. For instance, the Northwest Pacific Ocean where Haiyan formed is where these storms are called “typhoons”. Structurally, they are the exact same as what we call “Hurricanes” here. It’s in this part of the world that w see the highest frequency of storms thanks to an almost year round supply of ocean water of at least 80 degrees. This is a key ingredient in tropical system formation.
Storms that develop into the Indian ocean are called “Cyclones” Storms that develop in this region can form both North and South of the equator. Another key ingredient in tropical system formation is that the majority of develop at a distance of about 300 miles NORTH or SOUTH of the equator. Cyclones that develop South of the equator spin CLOCKWISE. Storms that form North of it spin COUNTER-CLOCKWISE. Areas of low and high pressure spin opposite in the Northern and Southern Hemispheres.
And of course, closer to home, we call them “Hurricanes”.