Difference Between Cyclone and Hurricane

Edited by Diffzy | Updated on: May 28, 2023


Difference Between Cyclone and Hurricane

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There are so many nature-held phenomena either affect us or sometimes do not. They all happen for a reason. And there is no stop to this; it will continue to happen. In this article, we will talk about all those factors that lead to naturally occurring problems and what are the dangers. So, get your seatbelts tight as a cyclone of fears might arise in your mind.

Cyclone vs Hurricane

Cyclones and Hurricanes are famous tropical cyclones that rotate and originate over warm tropical or subtropical waters. The main difference between them is their geographical location. A cyclone is a term used to describe a tropical cyclone that eventually occurs in the Indian Ocean or South Pacific Ocean. On the contrary, a hurricane is a tropical cyclone in the Atlantic or Northeast Pacific Ocean.

If we Compare their characteristics, both cyclones and hurricanes have strong winds, heavy rainfall, and storm surges and bring the potential for significant damage to coastal areas. The intensity depends on the speed of the wind, having different categories. Tropical storms mainly form over the warm water of the ocean, closely located near the Equator. Eventually, the air cools down, pushing the warm air rising below. When this cycle gains momentum, it forms a tropical storm that rotates the system even faster, but it is calm and clear and has a relatively low air pressure.

Difference between cyclone and hurricane in tabular form

AboutA cyclone is an atmospheric system of rapidly circulating air mass exerting a low-pressure centre, usually accompanied by stormy and destructive weather.A hurricane is a cyclone, i.e., in the Northern Atlantic Ocean or northeast of the Pacific Ocean.
RotationIt happens in the clockwise direction in the southern hemisphere and counter-clockwise in the Northern Hemisphere.It starts from the southern hemisphere with clockwise and anticlockwise in the northern hemisphere.
IntensityIt occurs quite strongly. The scale for measuring the cyclones is called the Beaufort Scale and Saffir-Simpson scale Saffir- Simpson scale which may vary differently in different countries. Winds may approach 300kph and cause widespread damage.Hurricanes can be measured using five distinct categories in the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane wind scale. The intensity of damage due to the in-speed increases from Category 1 to Category 5.
Areas that get affected the mostAreas near the Pacific Ocean get affected mostly and face huge losses.Places near the Caribbean Sea get affected the most and are more destructive.
Speed of the windCyclones with fewer surface winds are less than 39 miles per hour, known as the tropical depression, and those with maximum sustained winds that are 39 mph or higher than that are called tropical storms.Hurricanes have maximum wind speed but are tackle able. And it moreover reaches more than 74 mph.


In books, a cyclone is an air mass that rotates around a centre of low atmospheric pressure. It has an anticlockwise rotation in the Northern Hemisphere and clockwise in the Southern Hemisphere, as seen through above. These can be distinguished by inward spiralling winds that rotate with a zone of low pressure. The most commonly low-pressure systems are mainly the polar vortices and extratropical cyclones on a larger scale. Tropical Cyclones and Subtropical Cyclones have warmer winds within the synoptic scale. Whereas Upper-level Cyclones can exist under a low surface and can move from the base of the tropical upper tropospheric trough, all these happen mainly during the summer months in the northern hemisphere.

Cyclogenesis is a process in the atmosphere where the development of cyclonic circulation takes place. The atmosphere has an umbrella for several different processes, which sums up to a cyclone. Extratropical cyclones start from the waves along the weather fronts before occluding later in their life cycles as cold core systems. Tropical cyclones occur due to the significant connectivity and warm core, whereas mesocyclones form as warm core cyclones over land and can also lead to the formation of a tornado.

A tropical storm in the centre of low-pressure forms and starts over the warmer section of the tropical oceans. The maximum energy sustained by the winds of tropical storms ranges from 63 to 118km per hour. Storms show an intermediate stage which is between the loosely organized tropical depressions and the intensity of tropical cyclones, known as hurricanes or typhoons. The precursors of the tropical storm happening in the Atlantic are majorly easterly waves that get characterized by a speed of wind which is approximately 16km per hour, they can be convective clouds at some of the areas that are loosely organized around the central areas of the low pressure or trough of the axis. The heat and moisture that get transferred from the surfaces of the sea to the atmosphere support the local atmospheric conditions, which are deep convection and low vertical wind shear. This system may become more organized and start to get more intensified. Intensification may occur due to the warming of the air in the atmosphere that slowly begins to rise. This transfer from the centre of the trough axis causes the surface pressure to fall, which affects and causes the higher winds to increase, including the transfer of heat at the surface. The Coriolis Force, which is a product of rotation of the earth in the axis that mainly causes the wind to rotate about the centre, generally generates closed and symmetric circulation patterns.

A common process can also be seen in the other section of ocean basins, some as the western Pacific and near the Equator. In the Western Pacific section, the tropical storms mainly originate from the convection areas that are loosely organized during the monsoon trough, this is a large-scale area which is low pressure and also lies along the Equator. The exact process that shows up the intensification of the storm is not yet understood but the surface pressure also falls and gets associated with the tropical upper tropospheric troughs which is likely to play the role.

Talking about the destructive side of cyclones, the destruction caused mostly depends upon their intensity, location, and size. In the regions where there is more density of the forest, the trees mostly get uprooted and the canopies get affected too. Regions of the coast, the banks and the embankments get eroded due to soil erosion. Near the deserts, the dunes get tuned a little but on the other hand mountainous regions have mudslides and landslides. When a cyclone hits a region, the hazards caused by the hitting it can be divided into three types;

  • Primary Hazards
  • Secondary Hazards
  • Tertiary hazards

Primary Hazards: These include strong winds, heavy rain, and storms. The sea level in this situation rises abnormally mainly near the coasts and as a result of it, the low-lying area is also near the coastal regions that can get submerged, drowning the humans and their love stocks which destroys the inhabitation of the vegetation and the soil fertility. The strong winds also damage the houses and trees and the communication system etc. which lastly causes huge loss of life.

Secondary Hazards: These cause heavy floods, fire, and flooding of fresh water. Heavy and prolonged rains cause floods in the rivers and due to that there is submergence of the places located nearby, there is also erosion of valuable farming lands and huge destruction of monuments.

Tertiary hazards: These include diseases which are mainly caused due to stagnant water, poisoning of water and the sudden increase in the price of goods and resources. Due to this, the relief programmes get more difficult, as the water level rises in the streets, transportation and communication in the rescue operations and the efforts of clean up become extremely difficult. This leads to a huge number of death and near about 2 million people die every year.


A tropical cyclone rotates the storm system which is a low-pressure centre, at a closed low-level atmospheric circulation, stronger winds and spiral arrangements of the thunderstorms which cause heavy rain and squalls. Upon locating its location and strength it is referred to by different names that is hurricanes, typhoons, tropical storms, cyclonic storms, tropical depression, or simple you can say these are all forms of cyclone. “Tropical” also refers to the geographical origin of these systems which mainly form exclusively over the tropical seas. These typically form over the larger bodies that are relatively warm. They derive the energy through the evaporation of water mainly from the ocean surface, which ultimately condenses into clouds and rains when the moist air rises and cools down to saturation. This source of energy also differs from that of the mid-latitude cyclonic storms, such as the northeastern parts and the windows of the European, which are primarily powered by horizontal temperature contrasts. Every year this happens in different regions of the globe which includes the Gulf Coast of North America, Australia, India and in some places of Bangladesh.

At the centre, there is mature air that sinks rather than rises. To get a sufficiently strong storm a portion of air may sink downwards to overcome the deep layer and also to suppress the formation of clouds which thereby creates a visible eye. This eye is normally circular and is mostly 30-65km in diameter and till now 370km has been the largest eye observed. The outer wall of the edge of the eye is called the “eyewall”, which resembles an arena of football stadium and sometimes this phenomenon is also referred to as “stadium effect”. The air inside the eye rises rapidly, the clouds also reach higher altitudes and there is heavy precipitation. In the case of weaker storms, the eye may be obscured caused of the central dense overcast, which is mainly the upper-level cirrus shield that is also associated with the concerned area that will be affected by the strong thunderstorm activity near the centre of the tropical cyclones.

The season of hurricane mainly start at the beginning of June and probably ends in November, although hurricanes can also occur outside of this frame. Ahead of the formal seasons, people are urged to start the preparation before handed as and when predicted by the politicians and weather forecasters among others. These hurricanes affect international shipping and cause shipwrecks. These stir up the water which lately leave the region as less favourable for subsequent tropical cyclones. When these hurricanes hit the coastal areas it causes serious hazards that mainly include heavy rains, high winds and storm surge and sometimes even tornadoes. Storm surge mainly pushes the water to the shore when there is a hurricane causing flooding in the nearby localities. Heavy rains also cause huge losses to the environment most importantly soil erosion.

Difference between cyclones and hurricanes in points

  • Cyclones and hurricanes mostly differ by the occurrence they show up which is cyclones are typically found near the Indian Ocean whereas the south pacific are found near the northeast Pacific Ocean.
  • The speed of wind of a cyclone is much stronger and hit hard the surface whereas hurricanes have sustained winds.
  • The size of hurricanes is mostly larger than cyclones and also, they cover a huge area which causes more loss to the environment.
  • Both cyclones and hurricanes rotate in opposite directions, cyclones in the southern hemisphere tend to rotate clockwise while hurricanes rotate anticlockwise in the northern hemisphere.
  • The impact of both cyclones and hurricanes causes destruction, but in comparison, hurricanes tend to be more severe due to the stronger winds and larger size than cyclones.


Cyclones and hurricanes are types of tropical cyclones that mainly form over warm ocean water. While they share some similarities like the formation, and the potential for significant damage. There is a very keen difference between them which is their speed of wind, size, and direction of rotation. In summary, cyclones and hurricanes are complex natural phenomena that cannot be changed or neither denied. By understanding their difference, and preparedness measures, there should be probable efforts taken to reduce the impact of these hazards which in and all protect lives.


  • Cyclone - Wikipedia
  • Tropical cyclone - Wikipedia
  • Difference Between Cyclones And Hurricanes In Tabular Form (byjus.com)
  • Hurricanes, Cyclones, and Typhoons Explained (nationalgeographic.org)


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"Difference Between Cyclone and Hurricane." Diffzy.com, 2023. Tue. 03 Oct. 2023. <https://www.diffzy.com/article/difference-between-cyclone-and-hurricane>.

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