When you hear the words, “ hurricane,” “tropical cyclone,” and “typhoon,” you may wonder what is the difference between all of these devastating natural disasters. I wondered this as I read about the disturbing tragedy that recently occurred in Vietnam this week as a typhoon ripped through the area, taking about 100 lives with it. This article touches upon both subjects.
Hurricanes and typhoons are all considered a strong tropical cyclone. This phenomenon actually describes a really big thunderstorm that develops within a low-pressure system that usually makes an appearance over tropical or sub-tropical waters. The surface wind circulation of these storms showcase easily detectable cyclonic characteristics.
A tropical cyclone is broken into two different types. The first is called a “tropical depression” and it is characterized by surface winds that reach a maximum speed of less than 17m/s or (34kt, 39 mph). If a tropical cyclone reaches wind speeds more than the 17m/s, it is then referred to as a “tropical storm.” It is then given one of those cute names we identify with when news reporters give us updates on its movement and destruction. When the winds reach speeds of 33 m/s (64kt, 74mph). Depending on where it is located, the tropical cyclone is then called by a different name.
If the storm is found in the North Atlantic Ocean; the Northeast Pacific Ocean area; or the South Pacific Ocean area, it will be dubbed a “hurricane.”
If the storm is found in the Southwest Pacific Ocean or the Southeast Indian Ocean area, it will be called a “severe tropical cyclone.”
Throughout the North Indian Ocean, it becomes a “severe cyclonic storm.”
When the storm is located in the Southwest Indian Ocean, it is known simply as a “tropical storm.”
When the storm resides in the Northwest Pacific Ocean area, it is called a “typhoon” and this is what brings us to recent headlines.
This week, a typhoon struck the southern coast of Vietnam, taking close to 100 lives with it, who are presumed dead or missing. The poorly constructed residences in the area were also heavily damaged, a count that near hundreds of thousands. The typhoon, which was named Durian, swept through the Philippines, killing hundreds before making its way to Vietnam. The area is no stranger to this sort of natural disaster. Typhoon Durian is the ninth storm to occur this year, raising the total of destroyed homes and fishing boats to unfortunate highs.
Typhoons are rather destructive in this part of the world. During an average year, hundreds and possibly thousands of people are wiped out during a variety of tropical storms and typhoons. Usually, it is the rural parts of Southeast Asian that are attacked, where excessive flooding and mudslides add more fuel to the fire. Just to elaborate on the power that these storms possess: hundreds of Vietnamese fishermen lost their lives in May; and in October, hundreds of homes were destroyed and at least 70 lives were taken in Danang.