tropical cyclone

tropical cyclone


Cross section of a tropical cyclone. A cyclone derives its power from the warm air and water found …—© Merriam-Webster Inc.

Severe atmospheric disturbance in tropical oceans. Tropical cyclones have very low atmospheric pressures in the calm, clear centre (the eye) of a circular structure of rain, cloud, and very high winds. In the Atlantic and Caribbean they are called hurricanes; in the Pacific they are known as typhoons. Because of the Earth's rotation, tropical cyclones rotate clockwise in the Southern Hemisphere and counterclockwise in the Northern. They may be 50–500 mi (80–800 km) in diameter, and sustained winds in excess of 100 mph (160 kph) are common. In the eye, however, the winds drop abruptly to light breezes or even complete calm. The lowest sea-level pressures on Earth occur in or near the eye.

This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
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