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Portal:Tropical cyclones

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Satellite photograph of Typhoon Tip

A tropical cyclone is a storm system characterized by a large low-pressure center, a closed low-level circulation and a spiral arrangement of 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. Most 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, as well as to 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 may 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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The Bhola cyclone on November 11, 1970, at 0858 UTC

The 1970 Bhola cyclone was a devastating tropical cyclone that struck East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) on November 12, 1970. It was the deadliest tropical cyclone ever recorded, and one of the deadliest natural disasters of modern times. At least 500,000 people lost their lives in the storm, mostly as a result of the storm surge that flooded many of the low-lying islands of the Ganges Delta. This cyclone was the sixth cyclonic storm of the 1970 North Indian Ocean cyclone season and was also the most powerful, reaching a strength equivalent to a Category 4 hurricane.

The cyclone formed over the central Bay of Bengal on November 8 and moved north, intensifying as it did so. It reached its peak with winds of 185 km/h (115 mph) on November 12 and made landfall on the East Pakistan coast that night. The storm surge devastated many of the offshore islands, wiping out villages and destroying crops throughout the region. In the most severely affected Thana, Tazumuddin, over 45% of the population of 167,000 was killed by the storm.

The Pakistani government was severely criticised for its handling of the relief operations following the storm, both by local political leaders in East Pakistan and in the international media. The opposition Awami League gained a landslide victory in the province and continuing unrest between East Pakistan and the central government trigged the Bangladesh Liberation War, which concluded with the creation of the state of Bangladesh.


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Wayne 1986 track.png

Unusual path of Typhoon Wayne, among the longest lasting Pacific typhoons on record. It formed to the west of the Philippines on August 16, and after looping to the northwest it attained typhoon status. Wayne turned to the northeast, striking Taiwan before turning to the southwest and weakening to tropical depression status. It then turned eastward and to the northeast, then re-attained typhoon status before changing its motion to the west. On September 5 it crossed northern Hainan Island, and the next day it dissipated after striking northern Vietnam. Typhoon Wayne caused over 71 fatalities along its path.


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Did you know…


Hina Mar 16 1985 0319Z.png
  • …that according to an unofficial reanalyisis using the Dvorak technique, Cyclone Hina (pictured) had a peak intensity of 170 kt (195 mph, 315 km/h)?
Onil 02 oct 2004 0928Z.jpg


Tropical cyclone anniversaries

Kate 20 nov 1985 1950Z N9.jpg

November 20,

Gay nov 20 1992 2115Z.jpg

November 21,

  • 1992 - Typhoon Gay (pictured) reached its peak intensity with winds of 300 km/h (185 mph) in the open Pacific Ocean.
  • 2015 - Typhoon In-fa reaches its peak strength as a Category 4 with 1-minute sustained winds of 220 km/h (140 mph) and a minimum pressure of 935 hPa.
Irma Nov 22 1981 1200Z.jpg

November 22,

  • 1981 - Typhoon Irma (pictured) reached its peak intensity with winds of 250 km/h (155 mph) in the Philippine Sea as it approached its landfall in the northern Philippines. Irma caused over 200 deaths on Luzon.
  • 2004 - Cyclone Bento rapidly intensifies into an intense Category 5 cyclone with 1-minute sustained winds of 260 km/h (160 mph) along with a pressure of 915 hPa, out in the Indian Ocean.


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