Outline of tropical cyclones

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The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to tropical cyclones:

Tropical cyclonestorm system characterized by a large low-pressure center and numerous thunderstorms that produce strong winds and heavy rain. Tropical cyclones strengthen when water evaporated from the ocean is released as the saturated air rises, resulting in condensation of water vapor contained in the moist air. They are fueled by a different heat mechanism than other cyclonic windstorms such as nor'easters, European windstorms, and polar lows. The characteristic that separates tropical cyclones from other cyclonic systems is that at any height in the atmosphere, the center of a tropical cyclone will be warmer than its surroundings; a phenomenon called "warm core" storm systems.

Nature of tropical cyclones

Tropical cyclones can be described as all of the following:

  • Storm – disturbed state of an environment or astronomical body's atmosphere especially affecting its surface, and strongly implying severe weather. It may be marked by significant disruptions to normal conditions such as strong wind, hail, thunder and lightning (a thunderstorm), heavy precipitation (snowstorm, rainstorm), heavy freezing rain (ice storm), strong winds (tropical cyclone, windstorm), or wind transporting some substance through the atmosphere such as sand or debris.
  • Natural disaster – major adverse event resulting from natural processes of the Earth; examples include floods, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, tsunamis, and other geologic processes. A natural disaster can cause loss of life or property damage, and typically leaves some economic damage in its wake, the severity of which depends on the affected population's resilience, or ability to recover.

Types of tropical cyclones

Cumulative graph of tropical cyclones in the eastern Pacific

Tropical cyclone observations

Saffir–Simpson scale
Category Wind speeds
(for 1-minute maximum sustained winds)
m/s knots (kn) mph km/h
Five ≥ 70 m/s   ≥ 137 kn   ≥ 157 mph   ≥ 252 km/h  
Four   58–70 m/s     113–136 kn     130–156 mph     209–251 km/h  
Three   50–58 m/s     96–112 kn     111–129 mph     178–208 km/h  
Two   43–49 m/s     83–95 kn     96–110 mph     154–177 km/h  
One   33–42 m/s     64–82 kn     74–95 mph     119–153 km/h  
Related classifications
(for 1-minute maximum sustained winds)
Tropical storm   18–32 m/s     34–63 kn     39–73 mph     63–118 km/h  
Tropical depression   ≤ 17 m/s     ≤ 33 kn     ≤ 38 mph     ≤ 62 km/h  


Tropical cyclone history

Tropical cyclone seasons

Specific tropical cyclones

See also

External links

Regional Specialized Meteorological Centres
Tropical Cyclone Warning Centers