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A tropical cyclone is a rapidly rotating storm system characterized by a low-pressure center, strong winds, and heavy precipitation. Tropical cyclones form over warm ocean waters and derive their energy from the condensation of water vapor. They can occur in any tropical ocean basin, but are most common in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans.
Characteristics of Tropical Cyclones
A Tropical cyclone is typically characterized by the following features:
- A low-pressure center: The central pressure of a tropical cyclone is typically much lower than the surrounding atmospheric pressure. This low pressure gradient drives the strong winds that circulate around the storm.
- Strong winds: The winds in a tropical cyclone can reach speeds of over 200 kilometers per hour (125 miles per hour). These strong winds can cause significant damage to property and infrastructure.
- Heavy precipitation: Tropical cyclones produce heavy rainfall, which can lead to flooding and landslides.
- Storm surge: Tropical cyclones can also generate a storm surge, which is a wall of water that can inundate coastal areas. Storm surges can be particularly dangerous because they can reach heights of over 20 feet (6 meters) above normal sea level.
How Tropical Cyclones Form?
Tropical cyclones form over warm ocean waters, typically where the sea surface temperature is at least 26 degrees Celsius (79 degrees Fahrenheit). The warm water provides the energy needed for the storm to develop.
The formation of a tropical cyclone begins with a disturbance in the atmosphere. This disturbance can be caused by a variety of factors, such as a wave in the easterly trade winds or a trough of low pressure.
If the disturbance is able to persist and grow, it can eventually develop into a tropical cyclone. This process is called cyclogenesis.
Stages of Tropical Cyclone Development
A Tropical cyclone typically develop through five stages:
- Tropical depression: A tropical depression is a weak tropical cyclone with sustained winds of less than 34 knots (62 kilometers per hour).
- Tropical storm: A tropical storm is a stronger tropical cyclone with sustained winds of 34 to 63 knots (62 to 117 kilometers per hour).
- Hurricane: A hurricane is a severe tropical cyclone with sustained winds of 64 knots (118 kilometers per hour) or greater.
- Major hurricane: A major hurricane is a very intense tropical cyclone with sustained winds of 111 knots (208 kilometers per hour) or greater.
- Super typhoon: A super typhoon is the most intense type of tropical cyclone, with sustained winds of 150 knots (278 kilometers per hour) or greater.
Naming a Tropical Cyclone
Tropical cyclones are typically given names by the national meteorological services of the countries they are expected to impact. This helps to reduce confusion and improve communication about the storms.
The names of tropical cyclones are chosen from a pre-approved list. The lists are rotated every six years, so that a name is only used once every six years.
Effects of Tropical Cyclones
Tropical cyclone can have a devastating impact on coastal communities. The strong winds, heavy precipitation, and storm surge can cause significant damage to property and infrastructure. Tropical cyclones can also lead to loss of life.
The following are some of the most common effects of a tropical cyclone:
- Wind damage: The strong winds in a tropical cyclone can damage or destroy buildings, trees, power lines, and other infrastructure.
- Flooding: The heavy rainfall associated with tropical cyclones can lead to flooding, which can damage property and infrastructure and displace residents.
- Storm surge: The storm surge generated by tropical cyclones can inundate coastal areas, causing significant damage to property and infrastructure. Storm surges can also lead to loss of life.
- Landslides: The heavy rainfall associated with tropical cyclones can also trigger landslides, which can damage property and infrastructure and block roads.
Tropical cyclones are among the most destructive natural disasters on Earth. They can cause significant damage to property and infrastructure, and can also lead to loss of life. It is important to be aware of the risks posed by tropical cyclones and to take steps to prepare for them. This includes developing a plan for what to do if a tropical cyclone is approaching, and assembling a disaster supply kit.