Talk:Tropical cyclone/Archive 1

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Why tropical?

Two points:

  • Why is it _tropical_ cyclone and not just cyclone? There's probably some explanation for that, and that should be somewhere in the first paragraph of the article.
  • The section on Cyclone Tracy should be a separate article, I think.

jheijmans, Friday, June 28, 2002

I know it's silly to answer such an old question, but it bothers me that it's sitting up here.
In general meteorological usage, a "cyclone" is any large rotating low pressure storm. This includes non-tropical systems such as arctic cyclones. The modifier "tropical" is used to specify that the cyclone in question has a certain set of characteristics, particularly a closed circulation and large-scale convection.
Why Australia chooses to drop the "tropical" in common usage, I don't know. The Australian Bureau of Meteorology uses "tropical cyclone" in formal contexts. -- Cyrius| 05:58, 19 Oct 2004 (UTC)

What is billion?

In the article it says the damage of XYZ was ?? billion. Billion in American or in British English? The problem is that the SI namings should be used, but it is not clear which one was actually used!

Typhoon etymology

Some weblinks have died since they have been posted. Excerpts will be available in Talk:Tropical cyclone/Etymology.

"Typhoon" is an unusual word, in that it has two possible reasonable etymologies, from rather distinct linguistic sources: the Chinese tai-fung meaning "great wind" and the associated Japanese dai-fûn or tai-fûn; and the Greek name Typhon, the name of a monster associated with the wind. In fact, the English word comes first from the Greek via the Arabic tufân -- the Chinese is a fortuitous false cognate.

(dead) [1] I remember having seen the theory that the Chinese term was a loanword in a dictionary somewhere.
(dead) Hobson Jobson
(dead) From Greek via Arabic.
(dead) Excerpts from various paper sources.
If these links vanish into oblivion, don't worry, I've got some excerpts locally on my machine.
Shinobu 11:57, 19 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Someone added the sentence

The reversed-syllable form hong-thai in Min Nan (Hoklo) supports the Chinese origin of this term.

Could someone explain why the reversed-syllable form supports the Chinese origin? Zack 18:19, 9 Jun 2005 (UTC)

Because Typhon is an unbreakable unit, whereas tai-fung is spelled as two characters each conveying part of the meaning.
However, I think it can only prove that Taiwanese etc. borrowed it from Chinese.
It does not preclude the possibility of Chinese fitting the characters (perhaps in a manner not unlike folk etymology, or otherwise) to a foreign word.
It also doesn't preclude the possibility of both words having completely separate evolution until recent history.
I think it's not a good idea to be so definite about Typhoon's etymology considering the amount of doubt that still exists (even among scholars).
By the way, Jim Breens dictionary gives the Japanese as either タイフーン (TAIFU-N) from English or 台風 (たいふう (taifuu), variant 颱風 (たいふう or ぐふう (gufuu))). Shinobu 01:43, 18 August 2005 (UTC)
Someone pasted over part of the etymology section. Since it has grammatical problems, I am considering rewriting that sentence. A good moment to include some of the uncertainty that exists - either Greek or Chinese seems too definite. Has anyone got any problems with that? Shinobu 03:04, 21 September 2005 (UTC)

Since tropical cyclones are very frequent in Chinese coastal areas and completely nonexistent in mediterranean waters, it can be argued that it is much more likely to be a word of Chinese origin than of Greek origin. The similar word appearing in a number of European languages (English, Portugese, Greek), would support a single source which would logically be from a language in an area where tropical cyclones are part of life - like China. It is also supported by the fact that the name "Typhoon" is only used for tropical cyclones in the Western Pacific. English and Portugese have sailed these areas since the 15th century and may have brought the word to their respective languages. Malotaux 15:56, 24 September 2005 (UTC)

Merge with hurricane

(William M. Connolley 22:23, 24 Feb 2004 (UTC)) This article has been merged with hurricane (by me). Because they are different names for the same thing. I don't think I lost any info along the way. Save 1 was the first merge. I'm now going to eliminate some redundant stuff.

BTW, I don't know what to do about the other-languages stuff. There are now de: links to typhoon and hurricane, and the others are now a mixture. Well, someone who speaks those languages will have to do it.


Location: "...such cyclones almost never form within 10 degrees of the equator (where the Coriolis effect is weakest). However it is possible for tropical cyclones to form within this boundary if another source of initial rotation is provided. These conditions are extremely rare and such storms are believed to form at a rate of less than one a century." Should this be edited to include Hurricane Ivan, which became a hurricane at 9.9 N?

vaeiou, Tuesday, September 7, 2004

Ivan is covered by "almost never". If you want a specific mention of Ivan, you should wait for an explanation of how it defied the odds. Otherwise the mention doesn't really serve a purpose. -- Cyrius| 13:39, 7 Sep 2004 (UTC)
(William M. Connolley 14:11, 7 Sep 2004 (UTC)) I changed it to say "about 10 degrees" anyway: 10 isn't some absolute barrier, more a rule-of-thumb.
Quite true. -- Cyrius| 14:37, 7 Sep 2004 (UTC)
Need to do something about the disambig page for Hurricane, this is not the best place for it. --Mihai 22:42, 7 Apr 2005 (UTC)
Er? Have a suggestion? --Golbez 08:08, Apr 8, 2005 (UTC)

2*10^19 watts?

In the Effects section, we say that a mature cyclone can release heat at a rate of 2*10^19 watts, and that this is 200 times world electrical generating capacity. Something must be wrong with one of those numbers. If world electrical generating capacity were the implied 10^17 watts, that would be 10^8 gigawatts. In another article we say that US generating capacity is something like 600 gigawatts. The US can't account for less than 1/10,000 of the world's electric capacity, can it?

Let's find out the real numbers and put them in, if possible. I suspect the number that is wrong is the 200.

Associated Press has a report today (Sep 23/05) showing the following: with proper acknowledgement, can we add this to the article where it notes that nuclear bombs were suggested to be used? GBC 18:29, 23 September 2005 (UTC)

"Occasionally, somebody suggests detonating a nuclear weapon to shatter a storm.

"Researchers say hurricanes would dwarf such measures. For example, Hurricane Rita measures about 400 miles across.

"According to the center for atmospheric research, the heat energy released by a hurricane equals 50 to 200 trillion watts or about the same amount of energy released by exploding a 10-megaton nuclear bomb every 20 minutes."

Source for the figures


Now considering that this is the "Effects" section of our article, I would be inclined to attach more importance to the NOAA estimate of kinetic energy, which does the actual work/damage, rather than total heat release, whose effects are more related to the maintenance of the beast. The kinetic energy dissipation rate given for a typical hurricane is in the order or 1.5 x 1012 watts. I don't have a figure for world wide electricity consumption, but frankly I think the article can do without that tidbit. Girouette 01:45, 2004 Sep 12 (UTC)

history of tropical cyclone meteorology ?

When did meteorologists (or scientists, or philosophers) first notice the cyclone nature of these storms? How has our knowledge of tropical cyclones changed over time? I'm particularly curious about early changes in knowledge. Obviously with the advent of satellite photography great strides must have been made in understanding... 04:06, 11 Sep 2004 (UTC)

I am not a historian, but I am a meteorologist, so I will venture some thoughts. Cyclones were probably perceived as rotating entities some time before the dynamics were understood. A clever observer with a wind vane and good record-keeping may have been able to surmise the existence of cyclones, by analysing over some months or years the turning of the wind before, during and after bad weather. Googling along those lines, it seems one Herr Professor Dove did just that around 1827, according to this :

So Professor Dove looks to have claim to the discovery of cyclones.

Girouette 02:25, 2004 Sep 12 (UTC)

1827, wow, that is fairly recently. I look forward to reading more about this some day. Perhaps you (or even I <gasp>) will reseearch the topic and write an article some day. Thanks for the information! --Funkyj 07:37, 2004 Sep 12 (UTC)

In 1743 Ben Franklin was collecting information on an eclipse of the moon, which was obscured in Philadelphia. It was a strong northeaster, but he was surprised that in Boston the storn did not begin until the next day and the eclipse was visible. He surmised that the winds around the storm were in a cyclonic flow, and that despite the northeast winds, the storm had originated to the south and southwest.


I always thought that "willy willy" refers to a sort of small tornado-ey thing that you get out in the desert, caused by the air being heated by the ground.

BTW: aboriginal languages seem to use word doubling like this to create proper names. Many place names in Australia are like this (Wagga Wagga, Gin Gin).

(William M. Connolley 08:34, 13 Sep 2004 (UTC)) So did I. But I'm not really sure... EB sez: "in western Australia, any large, travelling tropical cyclone", though.
I also disagree with that. I've never heard of a cyclone being called a willy-willy, only a small 'dust devil' as some call it. This coroborates. Britanica is wrong to my mind. -Some Random Dude

Global warming?

Should reference be made to the possible role of global warming? A recent article, Frances, Ivan part of record-setting period for storms states

“The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has computer models that predict that as the world warms, hurricanes will get stronger … ”
“ ‘The Atlantic is a degree warmer than average this year. That may be a part of what's causing what's going on,’ said Willoughby, who used to direct the federal government's Hurricane Research Division.”

The article includes several excellent references to online research tools, including

(William M. Connolley 15:33, 13 Sep 2004 (UTC)) I recommend:
To paraphrase NOAA's Hurricane FAQ, the upswing in the number of hurricanes in recent years seems to be the result of a several-decade long Atlantic ocean temperature cycle. We're just on the high side after a quiet period lasting from the 1970s into the mid 90s. -- Cyrius| 16:36, 13 Sep 2004 (UTC)
The problem appears to be the strength of hurricanes, rather than the frequency. See Is Global Warming Fueling Katrina?. -- BD2412 talk 03:45, 30 August 2005 (UTC)
I partially re-wrote the "longterm trends" section, trying to give a balanced and coherent account of some current positions. I also added a short paragraph warning that much false and biased information is around. I'm not 100% happy about this first paragraph: it should have more references (more articles, more examples of watchdog groups). Maybe somebody can rework this part. Also, the end of the paragraph disintegrates.
Note, there seem to be users who consistently erase everything linking global warming and hurricans. Please watch out. Yours, 21:46, 8 September 2005 (UTC)

Regarding Neutrality

Please do not put personal statements of scientists or others on the page unless they are published in a first class scientific journal. I removed

Noted meteorologist W. Gray called Emanuel's work "... a terrible paper, one of the worst I've ever looked at." [2] However, little dispute has been voiced against the correlation itself, including by W. Gray.

A full and more balanced citation would be:

It's a terrible paper, one of the worst I've ever looked at," said Gray, who does not believe that cyclone intensity worldwide is increasing. He also questioned Emanuel's contention that human actions, such as the burning of oil and other fuels, have caused the surface of the ocean to warm. Gray said the ocean-temperature increase is natural.
Suzana Camargo, a cyclone specialist at Columbia University in New York, said Emanuel's findings should be taken seriously, arguing that his conclusion about the growing power of hurricanes is similar to the increase in the energy of typhoons she measured when tropical Pacific temperatures rise by several degrees Celsius as a result of cyclical El Nino weather events. You don't have more typhoons; you have more intense ones. You have supertyphoons," she said.

But again: We should stick to scientific publications here. There are too many people and interests trying to impose their personal view on the public.

For the same reason I am not sure how credible the "U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration" is: Until this year the US government denied that such a thing as global warming even exists. No wonder that they deny it plays a role in more frequent/fierce hurricanes. [User:MH|MH]] 09:53, 9 September 2005 (UTC)

I am wondering if anyone here thinks that the NOAA has falsified data. I am asking that question in regards to the comment above. The following BBC article includes NOAA charts: [3] Whether or not the NOAA disputes "global warming" shouldn't have anything to do with empirical evidence, unless that evidence is manipulated. According to the BBC charts, water surface temperature fluctuates normally and the intensity of storms shows no increased tendencies at all. Have any of the pro GW scientists considered the effects of volcanic or solar influences on hurricane activity? This whole debate about GW and hurricanes seems blown out proportion and is only being used as a political instrument. The Earth and its weather patterns have changed radically over the millenia. Would an Earth without the influence of humans be a kind of static Garden of Eden? Whyerd 08:53, 24 September 2005 (UTC)

The data of the NOAA is not in question. What is in question is that they seem to draw very definite conclusions ("highly unlikely that global warming has (or will) contribute to a drastic change in the number or intensity of hurricanes"). Other scientists, cited in the article and elsewhere, are much more careful in their statements. These scientists say: There are indications for this or that and here is our data and here is how we came to our conclusion. This seems a much more credible approach.
Besides that, at least I don't like the unscientific language of the NOAA statement: What, exactly, is a "drastic change"? Is one additional major hurricane a season "drastically" different? Is 10% stronger on average "drastic"?
The US government agency EPA, for instance, is much more careful in their statements. They distinguish "what is known for certain, what is likely, what is unkown". According to EPA, "a big unkonwn is":
Some of the largest uncertainties are associated with events that pose the greatest risk to human societies. IPCC cautions, "Complex systems, such as the climate system, can respond in non-linear ways and produce surprises." There is the possibility that a warmer world could lead to more frequent and intense storms, including hurricanes. Preliminary evidence suggests that, once hurricanes do form, they will be stronger if the oceans are warmer due to global warming. However, the jury is still out whether or not hurricanes and other storms will become more frequent. [4]
this sounds quite different from the NOAA FAQ.
Finally, in the past the US government has been criticized for being not accurate with global warming related scientific findings. In an article titled "Bush aide edited climate reports", the New York Times and others reported this year:
Internal documents show that White House official Philip A Cooney, who once led oil industry fight against limits on greenhouse gases, has repeatedly edited government climate reports in ways that play down links between such emissions and global warming; Cooney is now chief of staff for White House Council on Environmental Quality; dozens of wording changes convey air of doubt about findings that most climate experts say are robust New York Times, June 2005
In the light of all this politics around global warming I'm careful when people (government agencies or others) are making very definite statements about the subject. 10:05, 24 September 2005 (UTC)

Unsigned comment about Wikipedia's coverage of hurricanes

moved from the Village pump

Hurricanes on the other side of North and South America. It's like they don't exist. And they seems rather large as well. Just my two cents.

I've raised this topic as well, and have been pondering creating a 2004 Pacific hurricane season when I have a few minutes of spare time. Might hunker down tonight and do that. Might want to confine it to East Pacific though, and leave West Pacific typhoon season to another page. --Golbez 16:22, Sep 15, 2004 (UTC)

End moved discussion

Who names them

Who or what group of people are responsible for naming hurricanes etc.? Is there already a long list to choose from and does it have to be 3 female names then a male name and back to female names again? Thanks.

The article says so, in the "Naming of Tropical Cyclones" section. --Golbez 22:32, Sep 17, 2004 (UTC)

Ivan notable?

Is the reason it is notable due to the low latitude Category 4 strength or the death toll? If the former, it should probably be rewritten to indicate the 135 mph wasn't the storm peak. If it's the death toll, we'll probably need to make room for Jeanne (as well as clean the Ivan entry up). -- Xylaan 22:27, 22 Sep 2004 (UTC)

Ivan's most notable for the low altitude, yes. I'm removing the excess info; if Andrew doesn't have specifics like that, Ivan doesn't either. --Golbez 22:34, Sep 22, 2004 (UTC)
I personally don't think Ivan belongs here at all. It's just that it's big news so everyone wants to mention it. -- Cyrius| 01:39, 23 Sep 2004 (UTC)
In fact, now that I think of it, this is a redundant list - List_of_notable_tropical_cyclones is the proper article. And that article could stand to use some more in-depth info, like what's contained on this page. --Golbez 01:56, Sep 23, 2004 (UTC)

Important function?

(William M. Connolley 13:32, 23 Sep 2004 (UTC)) Pollinator added that cyclones had an important met function. This seems rather dubious... I doubt they are a significant component of the heat budget in those regions. Most of the time, there aren't any, anyway, which sets some limit.

All I know is that the ocean after a hurricane passes over it is noticeably cooler. The heat has to go somewhere. --Golbez 15:17, Sep 23, 2004 (UTC)
(William M. Connolley 16:08, 23 Sep 2004 (UTC)) Certainly, but thats rather un-quantified. And "important function" is teleological (?) anyway.

Scia American Article

There was an article about stopping or diverting hurricanes in sci am this month. Is there any writing abouth is on wikipedia? I think there should be. BrokenSegue 04:53, 9 Oct 2004 (UTC)

See whether this can help. [5]

Notable storms

I've done some work on this section, but needs definite fact checking. For example, what's the most intense storm anywhere? Was it Gilbert?

On another note, I've merged/redirected all relevant storms to here. Extratropical and subtropical still have their own articles, as well they should. (For a while, I had extratropical redirect here, but it does deserve its own section I think).

--Golbez 01:59, Oct 11, 2004 (UTC)

Need factchecking; was Camille the strongest storm to ever hit land at that intensity? --Golbez 15:03, Oct 13, 2004 (UTC)
The Labor Day Hurricane of 1935 is the strongest to have ever hit the US. Camille was the strongest when hitting the mainland US. I don't know about the rest of the Atlantic or other oceans. -- Cyrius| 15:14, 13 Oct 2004 (UTC)
Are you sure? Best windspeed I could find in a quick search for Labor Day was 160 mph... either way, I'll need a reference to add this to the chart. I'm looking only for windspeeds here, not intensity - and most places, when you look for "strongest hurricane," rank based on intensity. Example: [6]. A great source, yes - but one that lacks windspeeds. As for other basins, considering that I've only found 4 storms so far with 190 mph winds (Tip, Keith, Camille, Allen), and only Camille hit at that strength, it seems logical to assume that no Indian or other storm hit with such strength.
Okay, here we go. Labor Day Hurricane had the lowest pressure, Camille had the highest wind speed. NOAA's got a list of all the Category 5 Atlantic hurricanes [7], with the ones that were Cat 5 at landfall noted. That at least narrows the search. -- Cyrius| 17:17, 13 Oct 2004 (UTC)
Excellent, thanks. That also answered my other question: "3) Areas which have never experienced a landfalling hurricane of Category 5 intensity include: the U.S. East Coast, Cuba, Jamaica, nor most of the Windward or Leeward Islands!" Ergo, Allen didn't hit Jamaica at Cat 5. --Golbez 17:49, Oct 13, 2004 (UTC)
Actually, that may not be accurate - Allen seems to have hit Jamaica at category 5, but the windspeed isn't mentioned in its article. --Golbez 15:25, Oct 13, 2004 (UTC)

FAC nomination

The FAC nomination failed, although it had a decent amount of support.

I'm not happy with the article yet, so I don't feel bad about that. -- Cyrius| 06:18, 19 Oct 2004 (UTC)

It wanders; there's no clear path from A to Z. I'm not quite sure how to remedy that. What annoyed me, though, was that most of the complaints seemed centered on the Notable Storm section, and very few comments on the rest of the article. Yet, after I fixed Notable Storms, the same complaint persisted, seemingly complaining that since the information had originally not been there, we can't trust my changes? --Golbez 17:17, Oct 19, 2004 (UTC)

I didn't really understand that myself. The wandering part is what bothers me, and I'm surprised there were no complaints about that. Right now I'm considering the possibility that a "Atlantic hurricane" article may be needed to separate out some of the basin-specific information, leaving tropical cyclone for general meteorological discussion. Similar articles could be written for other basins. -- Cyrius| 19:48, 19 Oct 2004 (UTC)

You think it tries too hard to handle all things? Then again, what's really the differences? Location of formation, potential for damage, who monitors them, and direction they spin, and that's basically it. I don't know if a different article is necessary. Perhaps basin-specific info can be given its own header. --Golbez 19:59, Oct 19, 2004 (UTC)

Excellent article guys. Okiedokie 15:07, 21 Oct 2004 (UTC)


I'm not sure if it's necessary to mention the Chinese ancestry of "typhoon" without mentioning where all the other words came from (like Hurricane). Furthermore, says the word arose independently in Greek and Chinese. See: [8] --Golbez 17:07, Nov 5, 2004 (UTC)

Tropical Cylone Tracks

I came here for a simple explanation of why a TC tends to follow a particular curved track from the latitudes within which it develops. It tends to move poleward after some wandering in its formation latitude. Firstly, it moves westward (either south west in the southern hemisphere or northwest in the northern) then straight polar and then takes on a more easterly heading (again SE or NE depending on hemisphere) as it speeds up and develops further. Why? Also, why does it sometimes vary from this path? In other words, what are the steering forces? This whole process is not even mentioned in the article as far as I can see. I don't know the answers so I am not going to even attempt to document it. Could some expert please address this? --CloudSurfer 19:08, 17 Feb 2005 (UTC)

In further research on the internet I found this site NOAA FAQs which could act as an entry into the literature. --CloudSurfer 19:34, 17 Feb 2005 (UTC)
(William M. Connolley 20:02, 17 Feb 2005 (UTC)) You have identified a gap in the article, and the page you point to appears to have the solution: steering by the large-scale flow (often, the 500 hPa (== mb) level is considered the "steering level"). I would guess some influence from Coriolis too. If no-one more expert does it, I'll add some info based on that page (or you could).

Needed improvements to bring up to FAC status

Once the following three complains are dealt with, I think it'll be time to re-nominate for FAC. --Golbez 08:23, May 11, 2005 (UTC)

This article is really good so far! I plan to work on it a little at a time over the next few weeks, especially movement, terminology, and naming. Also, IMO some reorganizing of the article would help. I'll give this a shot later today. Please help fix the result if it seems unclear.

The notable storm section looks excellent to me right now. The Tip/Tracy graphic's awesome. Kitesailor 13:21, August 4, 2005 (UTC)


The article focuses too much on naming in the N. Atlantic. This brings up a questions: Did the rest of the world not name cyclones in this fashion until after NOAA led the way? If they did, we need that info. --Golbez 08:18, May 11, 2005 (UTC)

I'll look into this. Kitesailor 13:21, August 4, 2005 (UTC)


At present, the article mentions nothing about WHY hurricanes move the way they do. Why does it go this way? And not that way? What makes them difficult to predict sometimes? And a mention or article needs to be made on the Fujiwhara effect, the cyclonic motion that two storms take around each other (that is, when two hurricanes are near each other, they will rotate around a certain "center of mass"). This can't be mentioned without other movement info. --Golbez 08:23, May 11, 2005 (UTC)

I finally got around to throwing Fujiwhara effect together. Had been meaning to for a while. -- Cyrius| 21:54, 9 Jun 2005 (UTC)
This morning I added a section on track and movement. Not that detailed; didn't get into Fujiwhara effect (a thrilling topic for geeks, not so significant in the normal run of things). I just covered tracks, pressure systems, steering currents, what models are and some forecasting issues, with emphasis on Atlantic basin cause that's what I know and have references for. BTW, I think this section might go higher, and some of the esoterica (naming, non-tropical storms, and so on, might go lower or in a separate related article). Like to add a graphic if I can whip one up soon. DavidH 19:35, July 18, 2005 (UTC)


I plan to somehow make a map of the particular basins. --Golbez 08:23, May 11, 2005 (UTC)

That would be really helpful. I wonder if the tracking maps provided by NOAA could be a starting point (they're fair game, right?), with the basins circled or shaded and labeled. I don't have enough Photoshop know-how at the moment to do that, unfortunately. Kitesailor 13:21, August 4, 2005 (UTC)

Dissipation and development

There are only few and confusing sentences about the fate of tropical cyclones when they becom extratropical etc. There are too many (and poorly written) articles that these sections link to. Extratropical cyclones, weather front, frontal cyclone, European windstorm: all of this needs a major cleanup. has some related information.


If anyone here cares, I have a lot of satellite photos of tropical cyclones. I've got all but five of the US landfalling hurricanes since 1965. I also have satellite photos of 230 out of 303 tropical cyclones that have formed since 1977. If you're counting, that means that I lack just 73 out of the 303 storms that formed during the past 28 years. So if you need a satellite photo of a storm since 1977 or a US landfalling hurricane since 1965, either I have it, or it probably doesn't exist.

E. Brown, Hurricane enthusiast - Squawk Box 8 July 2005 18:24 (UTC)