What Causes Typhoons

The main atmospheric conditions that cause typhoons are warm waters, moisture, and high speed winds. The word typhoon maybe derived from Greek word “typhoon” meaning the god of wind, or from the Chinese word “defung” meaning big winds. Typhoons are intense storms with sustained winds travelling at 33 meters per second that occur in the North-West Pacific Ocean.

Though these storms are largely destructive, sometimes they can bring relief from drought and help carry heat and energy away from the tropical areas to temperate latitudes. Thus, they are also considered significant in circulating and maintaining a warm and stabilizing temperature all over the world.

Storms are named depending on the intensity of the storm and the region in which they occur. So, just as typhoons are tropical storms in the North-west Pacific, hurricanes are tropical storms that occur in the Northeast Pacific Basin, and those in the Indian Ocean or Southern Hemisphere are called cyclones. Super typhoons are a term used for typhoons with sustained winds of at least 65 miles per second.

Understanding what causes typhoons can be puzzling and a complicated question to answer. Scientists believe that low pressure develops around warm waters (of at least 80F) throughout at  least a depth of 50 meters. If the warm water is surrounded by strong cold winds, it expands when it comes in contact with warm air and rises high up in the atmosphere.

Thus typhoons are a low pressure centre surrounded by inward circling winds. It can develop an eye, which is an area of calm and low pressure in the centre of the typhoon. Surrounding the eye, are high circulating winds about 16 to 80 km wide with a speed up to 85 meters per second.

Typhoons can produce very strong winds and heavy rain. This can result in flooding in coastal areas. Also strong winds associated with typhoons can damage buildings and homes. High winds and shallow water is a dangerous combination and a great threat to surrounding areas. Typhoons can occur all year round, the main season being from July to November, with a peak in end of August or beginning of September. These storms are known to travel up to 7000-8000 miles and can last up to 31 days.

These days with the advance in technology it might be possible to predict typhoons, as they happen in cycles. Though the frequency of typhoons is low it is best to know what to do in the event to minimize damage.

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