In Summary
  • Bringing torrential rains, high winds, storm surges, and giant waves, the storms can be deadly and wreak havoc once they make land.

  • At their most fearsome, these low-pressure weather fronts pack more power than the energy released by the atomic bomb that levelled Hiroshima.

  • In the Atlantic and northeast Pacific, they are known as hurricanes, while typhoon is the term used in Pacific Asia. The same weather phenomenon in the South Pacific and Indian Ocean is a cyclone.

  • Cyclones start life as simple thunderstorms. But at certain times of the year, when sea temperatures are high enough to create evaporation, the storm fronts begin to suck up vast quantities of water.

PARIS,

As Hurricane Florence looms off the eastern United States and Typhoon Mangkhut threatens the Philippines, here are some facts about monster storms and what to expect as climate change supercharges our weather.

Hurricanes, cyclones, and typhoons are different names for the same type of giant tropical storms that form in oceans near the Americas and Asia.

SEMANTICS

Bringing torrential rains, high winds, storm surges, and giant waves, the storms can be deadly and wreak havoc once they make land.

At their most fearsome, these low-pressure weather fronts pack more power than the energy released by the atomic bomb that levelled Hiroshima.

In the Atlantic and northeast Pacific, they are known as hurricanes, while typhoon is the term used in Pacific Asia. The same weather phenomenon in the South Pacific and Indian Ocean is a cyclone.

Cyclones start life as simple thunderstorms. But at certain times of the year, when sea temperatures are high enough to create evaporation, the storm fronts begin to suck up vast quantities of water.

In the northern hemisphere they are pulled into an anti-clockwise spiral as they make their way across the ocean by the rotation of the Earth. Cyclones in the southern hemisphere rotate clockwise.

The water they hold is then deposited as rainfall, bringing catastrophic flooding, property damage and loss of life.

The storms themselves -- with a calm "eye" at their centre -- can measure up to 1,000 kilometres (600 miles) across.

CATEGORY 5

But they weaken rapidly when they travel over land or colder ocean waters.

Scientists rank cyclones from Category 1-5. Category 5 storms have sustained winds of at least 252 kilometres (157 miles) per hour or higher.

Page 1 of 2