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Hurricanes vs Typhoons vs Cyclones

What Makes a Storm a Hurricane, Typhoon or Cyclone?

The primary difference is location. Same storm, different name used in different parts of the world.

  • Hurricanes are tropical storms that form over the North Atlantic Ocean and Northeast Pacific.
  • Typhoons are formed over the Northwest Pacific Ocean.
  • Cyclones are formed over the South Pacific and Indian Ocean.

Both hurricanes and typhoons are the same weather phenomenon: a tropical cyclone. A tropical cyclone is a rapidly rotating storm system characterized by a low-pressure center, a closed low-level atmospheric circulation, strong winds, and a spiral arrangement of thunderstorms that produce heavy rain or squalls.

How Does a Cyclone Become a Hurricane?

Wind! If a tropical storm passes over a region of warm water, combined with a small amount of wind, it can intensify quickly. If that happens, the pressure in the center will drop further, causing the wind to pick up.

  • Less than 39 mph: Tropical cyclones with winds of less than 39 mph are called “tropical depressions.”
  • 39-74 mph: If a tropical depression has sustained winds between 39 mph and 74 mph, it then becomes a “tropical storm.”
  • Over 74 mph: Once a tropical storm reaches sustained winds of over 74 mph, it will be reclassified depending on where its original location as either a hurricane, typhoon, or cyclone.
  • Hurricanes are categorized 1 to 5 according to the Saffir-Simpson scale, which is based on wind speeds. They rotate clockwise in the Southern hemisphere and counterclockwise in the Northern hemisphere.
  • Typhoons are monitored by the Japan Meteorological Agency, which classifies them depending on sustained wind speeds. Storms with wind speeds less than 74 miles per hour are called “tropical depressions,” “tropical storms” or “severe tropical storms.” Typhoons rotate clockwise in the Southern hemisphere and counterclockwise in the Northern hemisphere. They are typically very strong because of the Pacific Ocean’s warm water and occur more frequently.
  • Cyclones are rated from categories 1 to 5 in Australian Government’s Bureau of Meteorology. They are classified according to two intensity scales: “very intense tropical cyclone” and “super cyclonic storm.”


ALE Solutions is here 24/7/365 and ready to serve! We get to the impacted area within 24 hours of the catastrophic event, such as hurricanes. Our “Boots on the Ground” strategy allows us to secure properties and hotel rooms on a “first come, first served” basis. For more information on our Catastrophe Solutions, please visit


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