Saturday, August 18, 2007

Tropical Cyclones - Typhoons or Hurricanes by other Names

Well, several typhoons have come and gone. Here is a primer on typhoons for the uninitiated.

Basically typhoons and hurricanes belong to the weather category called tropical cyclones, named because of their circular nature. In the Northern hemisphere, cyclones turn counter-clockwise. Generally speaking, typhoons are what cyclones are called to the West of the international dateline. On the right they are called hurricanes.


Contrary to some beliefs, hurricanes can and do happen in the Pacific. They have been known to happen on the West coast of Mexico and the USA but are not very common. Most hurricanes occur in the Atlantic rounding out their paths in the Caribbean Sea.

As for typhoons, you could say that Taiwan is in 'typhoon alley' to borrow from the term 'tornado alley'. This is to say Taiwan gets more than its fair share of typhoons hitting in any given season. Typhoons that hit Taiwan often hit the Philippines beforehand. Typhoons can even hit Taiwan twice if they turn back, rare but not unheard of. The misses, typhoons that don't hit Taiwan, tend to go either North and hit Japan or South and hit Hong Kong or even Vietnam. What can I say, it's difficult to predict, typhoon tracking is an imperfect science.

There is also a naming convention for tropical depressions. Hurricanes are named alphabetically. From 2000, typhoons have received local Asian names. The lists of names can be found in the link below.

"Each of the 14 nations that typhoons affect submitted a list of names for a total of 141 names. The names include animals, flowers, astrological signs and a few personal names."
USA Today
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