No matter what they are called — cyclones, hurricanes or typhoons — the giant tropical storms that form in oceans near the Americas and Asia can be deadly, destructive and terrifyingly capricious. At full throttle, these low-pressure systems pack more power than the energy released by the atomic bomb that leveled Hiroshima.
In the South Pacific and Indian Ocean, they are known as cyclones. The same weather phenomenon in the Atlantic and northeast Pacific is a hurricane, while “typhoon” is the term used in Pacific Asia.
From outer space, they look like a smoke-enshrouded fireworks pinwheel, or what astronomers imagine as the swirling vortex around a black hole. Meteorologists call them “tropical cyclones,” and grade them on a five-step scale according to intensity, taking into account maximum sustained wind force and potential damage.
Cyclones are formed from simple thunderstorms at certain times of the year when the sea temperature is more than 26 degrees Celsius down to a depth of 60 meters. Sucking up vast quantities of water, they can lead to torrential rains and flooding, along with loss of life and property damage.
Rising seas, along with warmer air and sea water — all brought on by global warming — will boost the strength of cyclones, and increase the damage they cause, scientists say.
Hurricanes and typhoons can trigger large swells that move faster than the storm, travelling 1,000 km beyond its confines. The storms themselves — with a calm “eye” at their center — measure up to 1,000 km across. They weaken rapidly when they travel over land or colder ocean waters.
DID YOU KNOW? 你知道嗎？
Hurricane Harvey, which has been buffeting Texas last Friday (local time), is currently at Category 4 (209-251 km/h winds).
Category 5 packs winds of 280 km/h or more. Hurricane Katrina was a Category 5, killing over 1,800 people across the US Gulf Coast when it struck in 2005.
1. cyclone n.
氣旋 (qi4 xuan2)
2. hurricane n .
颶風 (ju4 feng1)
3. typhoon n.
颱風 (tai2 feng1)
4. tropical storm phr.
熱帶風暴 (re4 dai4 feng1 bao4)
5. low-pressure system phr.
低壓系 (di1 ya1 xi4)
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