Portal:Tropical cyclones

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Tropical Cyclones Portal

Typhoon tip peak.jpg

A tropical cyclone is a storm system characterized by a large low-pressure center and numerous thunderstorms that produce strong winds and heavy rainfall. Tropical cyclones feed on the heat released when moist air rises, resulting in condensation of water vapor contained in the moist air. They are fuelled by a different heat mechanism than other cyclonic windstorms such as nor'easters, European windstorms, and polar lows, leading to their classification as 'warm core' storm systems. Tropical cyclones originate in the doldrums near the Equator, approximately 10 degrees away.

The term 'tropical' refers to both the geographic origin of these systems, which form almost exclusively in tropical regions of the globe, and their formation in maritime tropical air masses. The term 'cyclone' refers to such storms' cyclonic nature, with anticlockwise rotation in the Northern Hemisphere and clockwise rotation in the Southern Hemisphere. Depending on its location and intensity, a tropical cyclone can be referred to by names such as 'hurricane', 'typhoon', 'tropical storm', 'cyclonic storm', 'tropical depression', or simply 'cyclone'.

Pictured: Typhoon Tip

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Radar image of Tropical Storm Barry making landfall

Tropical Storm Barry was a strong tropical storm that made landfall on the Florida Panhandle during August 2001. The third tropical cyclone and second named storm of the 2001 Atlantic hurricane season, Barry developed from a tropical wave that moved off the coast of Africa on July 24 and tracked westward. The wave entered the Caribbean on July 29 and spawned a low pressure area that organized into Tropical Storm Barry on August 3. After fluctuations in intensity and track, the system attained peak winds of 70 mph (110 km/h) in the Gulf of Mexico, and headed northward before moving ashore on the Gulf Coast.

Unlike the devastating Tropical Storm Allison earlier in the season, Barry's effects were moderate. Nine deaths occurred, six in Cuba and three in Florida. As a tropical cyclone, rainfall peaked at 8.9 in (230 mm) at Tallahassee, and winds gusts topped out at 79 mph (127 km/h). The wave that would become Barry dropped large amounts of rain across southern Florida, which led to significant flooding and structural damage. Moderate flooding occurred throughout the Panhandle, where damage was also reported as a result of high wind gusts. As the storm's remnants tracked inland, parts of the Mississippi Valley received light precipitation. Barry is estimated to have caused $30 million (2001 USD, $36.5 million 2008 USD) in damage.

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Visual comparison of Hurricane Floyd and Hurricane Andrew. The two storms are at similar positions and nearly identical intensities (933 mbar), but Hurricane Floyd is remarkably larger. In 1999 at the time of Floyd, it was believed that the wind speeds of the hurricanes were nearly identical as well, at 120 knots (140 mph, 220 km/h). In 2002, however, hurricane re-analysis concluded that Andrew had stronger winds than had previously been thought, and in the picture the storm winds are actually close to 145 knots (165 mph, 270 km/h).


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Tropical cyclone anniversaries

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  • August 31, 2002 - Typhoon Rusa (pictured) made landfall in South Korea killing 113 people and causing $6 billion in damages.
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