When high-speed winds move in the circular motion which occurs at the low-pressure centre, this phenomenon is referred to as a cyclone. There are different types of cyclones depending upon the size, nature as well as the setting in which they occur. These swirling winds are scientifically termed as Tornadoes or Hurricanes and this topic is commonly included in many competitive exams. Thus, if you are also studying this topic, here is a blog elucidating on the major types of cyclones.
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What is a Cyclone?
In simple words, a cyclone is used as a general term for a weather system in which winds revolve inwardly to an area of low atmospheric pressure. The large-scale air mass that rotates around a centre of low atmospheric pressure happens counterclockwise in the northern hemisphere and clockwise in the southern hemisphere.
Majorly formed from clouds and thunderstorms, a Tropical cyclone is a rotating system majorly originating from the subtropical or tropical regions. Whenever the wind channels move into low-pressure disturbance, this cyclone is formed. The surface water with high temperature evaporates and releases energy when the moving air condenses into clouds. Generally, tropical cyclones develop between 5 to 30 degrees of latitude. Out of all the types of cyclones, the surface water must be at least or around 80° F. Regions which experience tropical cyclones are Southwest Indian Ocean, Eastern Pacific, North Atlantic (including the Caribbean), North Indian Ocean, Southern Pacific etc.
Types of Tropical Cyclone
While discussing types of Cyclones, let us look at what are the types of Tropical Cyclones-
- Tropical Depression: A tropical cyclone with maximum sustained winds of 38 mph or less.
- Tropical Storm: A tropical cyclone with maximum sustained winds of 39-73 mph.
- Hurricane: A tropical cyclone with maximum winds greater than 74 mph.
- Major Hurricane: A tropical cyclone with maximum winds greater than 111 mph. The hurricanes would be categories 3, 4 and 5 of the Saffir-Simpson scale
Hurricanes, Typhoons, Cyclone and Tornadoes
Cyclones are referred differently across varied regions thus tropical cyclones are also called under several names making it confusing to find a common term. These dangerous storms when experienced in North Atlantic, Caribbean and North-Eastern are known as Hurricanes. Whereas, the ones you will encounter in the Indian Ocean and South Pacific are called Topical Cyclones or Cyclones.
‘Typhoons’ can be seen in the Northwest Pacific and are the most active tropical cyclone basin in the world. Apart from these major types of cyclones, there are a variety of small and localized tornadoes. In spite of their small size, such cyclones are capable of generating high-speed winds.
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Amongst the types of Cyclones, Mesocyclones are considered as one of the strongest tornadoes. Mesocyclones can be simply understood as a vortex of air caged between the convective storm. Such tornadoes are often cyclonic and happen with updrafts in the supercell. Through the Mesocyclone, the formation of ‘wall clouds’ takes place which further creates a funnel cloud. When the funnel cloud touches the ground, then it becomes a tornado. Yearly, thousands of Mesocyclones are formed, out of which only half of them get converted into cyclones.
Polar Lows or Arctic Hurricanes
‘Polar Lows’ or Hurricane-like cyclones are formed over Arctic and Antarctic seas. They are generally ignited by the air over the mildly warm ocean water. Polar Lows are often referred to as the Arctic Hurricanes by meteorologists in the Northern Hemisphere. The major reason behind this reference is because of the energy source, i.e. heat transfer from the water to air as well as latent heat released from the cloud condensation. Along with this, their circular cloud bands fairly resemble the tropical cyclones. Generally, Polar Lows are formed within a period of 24 hours and are difficult to predict.
Extratropical or Midlatitude Cyclones
Out of all the types of cyclones, Hurricanes are commonly known as Typhoons. The cyclonic storms that are formed nearby the frontal boundaries in the middle latitudes thus they are known as the midlatitude or the extratropical cyclones. Unlike the tropical counterparts of these cyclones, such type of cyclones are formed where the sharp temperature gradients occur between the connecting air masses. Midlatitude Cyclones are often larger than the usual hurricanes though their winds are weak. For example, the ‘nor’ easters’ that often occur on the American east coast in the winters in a popular example of this cyclone.
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Types of Cyclones in India
The Indian sub-continent has been hit by the following types of cyclones-
- Cyclone Tauktae – 2021
- Cyclone Amphan – 2020
- Kyarr and Maha 2019 ( Vayu and Hikka)
- Fani – 2019
- Hethai – 2018
- Gaja – 2018
- Titli – 2018
- Ockhi – 2017
- Vardah – 2016
- Hudhud – 2014
- Phailin – 2013
- Helen – 2013
- Nilam – 2012
- Phyan – 2009
- Odisha Cyclone – 1999
Thus, we hope that this blog about types of cyclones has helped you gain insights on this topic. Confused about which stream to take after 10th or which course to pursue after 12? Reach out to our Leverage Edu experts and we will guide you in making an informed decision towards a rewarding career. Sign up for an e-meeting with us today!