A cyclone is any mass of air that spirals around a low pressure center. It is an organized collection of thunderstorms embedded in a swirling mass of air. In general, both typhoons and hurricanes are tropical cyclones but differ in their locations. The difference between hurricane and typhoon is that tropical cyclones in the west Pacific are called Typhoons and those in the Atlantic and east Pacific Ocean are called Hurricanes. It's the longitude that matters.

Comparison chart

Hurricane versus Typhoon comparison chart
HurricaneTyphoon
About A hurricane is a cyclone that is located in the North Atlantic Ocean, or the NE Pacific Ocean east of the International Date Line, or the South Pacific Ocean east of 160E, and with sustained winds that reach or exceed 74 mph. Tropical cyclones in the Northwest Pacific Ocean west of the International Date Line with sustained winds of (or those that exceed) 74 mph are typhoons.
Rotation Clockwise in the southern hemisphere and counterclockwise in the northern hemisphere Clockwise in the southern hemisphere and counterclockwise in the northern hemisphere
Intensity Hurricanes are classified into five categories according to the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale. The wind speed and intensity of damage increases as from category 1 to category 5. Typhoons are generally very strong because of the Pacific’s warm water, and therefore are more frequent. They are also classified on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale, but can also be classified on the Japan Meteorological Agency typhoon scal
Location North Atlantic Ocean, the Northeast Pacific Ocean east of the International Date Line, or the South Pacific Ocean east of 160E. Hurricanes are found near the tropical zone, over warm waters in the Atlantic and Pacific ocean. Northwest Pacific Ocean west of the International Date Line
Most affected areas Caribbean Sea South East Asia, China Sea etc.
Frequency 10-15 per year 25-30 per year
Occurrence Usually warm areas Usually warm areas
Characteristics Heavy winds, floods, storm surge, a lot of rain, tornadoes Heavy winds, floods, storm surge, a lot of rain, tornadoes
Forms of precipitation Rain Rain
Hurricane Irene as seen from space
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Hurricane Irene as seen from space

Speed of a Typhoon vs. Hurricane

A tropical cyclone is one in which the maximum sustained surface wind (using the U.S. 1-minute average) is generally 64 kt (74 mph or 119 km/hr) or more.

Differences in Location

The term hurricane is used for Northern Hemisphere tropical cyclones east of the International Date Lineto the Greenwich Meridian. The term typhoon is used for Pacific tropical cyclones north of the Equator west of the International Date Line i.e. between 100E and 180E in the northern hemisphere.

Hurricane Isaac as seen from a NASA satellite on August 28, 2012.
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Hurricane Isaac as seen from a NASA satellite on August 28, 2012.

Differences in Intensity

Typhoons are generally stronger than hurricanes. This is because of warmer water in the western Pacific which creates better conditions for development of a storm. This unlimited amount of warm water also makes for increased frequency of typhoons. Even the wind intensity in a typhoon is stronger than that of a hurricane but they cause comparatively lesser loss due to their location. However, both use the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale for classification.

Direction of Rotation

Some reports also suggest that typhoons can only be counterclockwise ("anti-clockwise" in British English) while hurricanes can be both anti-clockwise and clockwise.

Areas where hurricanes and typhoons occur

Figures suggest the most common area for a Hurricane to occur is the Caribbean Sea while typhoons have a frequent occurrence off the coast of South East Asia.

Intensity Categories

Typhoons are tropical cyclones and are classified differently in various countries. Here's how Japan classifies typhoons:

Japan Meteorological Agency's Tropical Cyclone Intensity Scale
Category Sustained winds
Violent Typhoon ≥105 knots
≥194 km/h
Very Strong Typhoon 85–104 knots
157–193 km/h
Typhoon 64–84 knots
118–156 km/h
Severe Tropical Storm 48–63 knots
89–117 km/h
Tropical Storm 34–47 knots
62–88 km/h
Tropical Depression ≤33 knots
≤61 km/h

Hurricanes are classified into 5 intensity categories using the Saffir-Simpson scale.

Saffir–Simpson scale
Category Wind speeds
(for 1-minute maximum sustained winds)
meters per
second
knots miles per hour kilometers
per hour
Five ≥ 70 m/s ≥ 137 kn ≥ 157 mph ≥ 252 km/h
Four 58–70 m/s 113–136 kn 130–156 mph 209–251 km/h
Three 50–58 m/s 96–112 kn 111–129 mph 178–208 km/h
Two 43–49 m/s 83–95 kn 96–110 mph 154–177 km/h
One 33–42 m/s 64–82 kn 74–95 mph 119–153 km/h

Category 1 hurricanes cause minimal damage, category 2 cause moderate damage, category 3 cause extensive damage, category 4 hurricanes cause extreme damage, and category 5 hurricanes cause catastrophic damage.

Names of hurricanes and typhoons

Some commonly occurring hurricanes and typhoons have been named to categorize them. The names of Hurricanes are given each year. A few hurricanes named in the Atlantic in 2007 are Andrea, Barry and Dean. Some Typhoons named in the Western North Pacific and the South China Sea are Damrey, Langwang and Kirogi. Typhoons in the Chinese and Japanese regions are named after living things and often objects like flowers, rivers etc. Check out every hurricane name since 1950.

News about Hurricanes


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"Hurricane vs Typhoon." Diffen.com. Diffen LLC, n.d. Web. 18 Oct 2018. < >