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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Satellite Image of Hurricane Floyd.

Hurricane Floyd was the sixth named storm, fourth hurricane, and third major hurricane in the 1999 Atlantic hurricane season. A Cape Verde-type hurricane, it struck the Bahamas and paralleled the coastline of the Eastern United States, making landfall in North Carolina as a Category 2 hurricane. The hurricane produced torrential rainfall in the state, adding more rain to an area hit by Hurricane Dennis just weeks earlier. Floyd was responsible for 57 fatalities and $5.13 billion in damage (2005 USD).

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Surrounding the eye of the hurricane is a ring of thunderstorms, called the eyewall. Rainbands surround the eye of the storm in concentric circles. In the eyewall and in the rainbands, warm, moist air rises, while in the eye and around the rainbands, air from higher in the atmosphere sinks back toward the surface. The rising air cools, and water vapor in the air condenses into rain. Sinking air warms and dries, creating a calm, cloud-free area in the eye.


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Did you know…

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Tropical cyclone anniversaries

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  • July 4, 1974 - Typhoon Gilda (pictured) reached its peak intensity with 155 km/h (100 mph) winds before it affected Japan and South Korea, killing 128 and people causing $1.5 billion of damage.
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  • July 6, 2001 - Tropical Storm Utor (pictured) made landfall in southeastern China. Utor brought heavy rain to China which caused 144 deaths and nearly $300 million of damage.


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