Science Facts

What Causes A Typhoon? – Factors, Formation & Safety


A typhoon is a huge storm with very strong wind speed which form in tropical area. It is also known as a tropical storm. Most typhoons strike in the northern part of the Philippines. It is one of the deadly disasters that happens several times per year and creates a huge environmental change. Also, it keeps the temperature and heat at an equilibrium state.

The formation of typhoons is a natural phenomenon. The earth uses it to attain balance or equilibrium. Transferring energy from the equator to older parts of the earth. Various names call them. In the Northwest Pacific, we call them typhoons. In the Indian Ocean and southwest Pacific, they’re called cyclones. And in the Atlantic, they’re called hurricanes. They are often found to form within the Intertropical Convergence Zone or the ITCZ.

What causes a typhoon?

Typhoons are a mature tropical system. High-energy cosmic neutrinos are hitting on earth. Neutrinos are elementary particles like electrons but with no charge and almost no mass. They can pass through and remain unaffected by everything. The source of these super high-energy cosmic neutrinos that come from billions of light-years away is more of a mystery. They pass at incredible speeds through certain substances that they can polarize like water. Then It can create typhoons with warm water.

Some particular ingredients or factors came together to make typhoons. They are given below.

Warm water: The typhoon’s first ingredient is warm water, typically needed about 27 degrees Celsius or about 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Actually, the warmer it gets, the more latent heat that will go into the system, and the stronger it will be a tropical storm. So, in short, the water temperature is a pretty important aspect of these tropical systems.

Cyclone formation: Another thing need is a cyclonic circulation at the base of the storm. It’s pretty impossible to have a cyclonic storm without that low-level circulation. There are several ways to do this, most often a tropical wave forming around the Intertropical Convergence Zone.

Humidity: It is also another essential aspect. A lot of moisture in the atmosphere creates a tropical system. Since it is a warm-core low end with moisture, the atmosphere’s latent heat drops all that tremendous amount of rain.

Coriolis force: The thumb rule of thought is usually 10 degrees north or higher to develop a tropical system.

Exhaust: These tropical systems are cyclonic at their base but antipsychotic in the upper atmosphere, which allows them to move away from the center of circulation. In the upper atmosphere, it will be loosening up and pushing away from that center of circulation. So anti cyclonic force is need for an upper-level ridge aloft or high pressure aloft.

Vertical wind shear: Storms in the higher latitudes allows them to spin up and become extra severe. But tropical systems are much like a chimney. A little wind shear or a cold front coming in from the north allows the storms to break apart.

Typhoon Formation

Typhoons form just like how ordinary ring bells form. They start from the evaporation of water molecules from the ocean because this moist air is warm. They travel upwards until they meet with cold air. At this point, they start to condense and form clouds resulting in rain showers. The clouds dissipate and vanish after precipitation is completed. With a very active system, clouds can move together into large clusters of thunderstorms. These clusters of clouds are areas of low pressure in the atmosphere.

Typhoon Formation
Typhoon Formation

When combined with warm ocean waters, typically over 26 degrees Celsius, they joined two key ingredients in transforming ordinary clouds into deadly typhoons. The rotation of the earth causes the strengthening system to spin counterclockwise in the northern hemisphere.

Converging winds also have warm, moist air from the ocean of warranties and contribute to typhoon circulation. With an organized circulation, the low-pressure area becomes a tropical depression. At the tropical depression drift, it may encounter areas of the ocean where it is hot. This will further drive the increase of its circulation, transforming it into a typhoon.

When conditions are ideal, the system starts to rotate even faster, and now on a prayer center, the typhoon’s eye. When wind speeds top 25 knots about 30 miles per hour, the center issues its First Alert. A super typhoon with sustained wind speeds above a hundred and fifty miles an hour is as destructive as the most notorious killer hurricanes like Katrina.

Difference between Hurricane & Typhoon

What’s the difference between a hurricane and a typhoon? They’re both storms that get names. The super typhoon hitting Asia is named Heian or Yolanda. The main difference between a hurricane and a typhoon is where the storm occurs. According to NOAA, hurricanes form in the northern Atlantic, northeastern Pacific, and South Pacific.

Typhoons form in the northwestern Pacific. All storms share begin as tropical storms. Each begins over warm oceans where there are high levels of air, moisture, and wind. If the right conditions persist, these spinning storms will grow and reach sustained internal wind speeds of 74 miles an hour. They can bring torrential rain flooding and all the other hallmarks of a big storm like that.

The location of the typhoon cyclone or hurricane determines the direction it spins. A typhoon doesn’t mean it will spin in a specific direction, same with a hurricane. Storms can spin either way. All storms are forming in the northern hemisphere spin counterclockwise. At the same time, those forming in the southern hemisphere spin clockwise.

However, the super typhoon that’s a real science thing. It’s a ranking that’s done on that side of the world, and it means a sustained surface wind of at least 150 miles an hour high. In the Atlantic, they typically appear from June to November. But the Pacific typhoon can happen anywhere from May to December. And there may be as many as 30 in a year.

Typhoons hit the headlines when they affect countries like Japan and parts of Southeast Asia. On the other hand, Hurricanes hit the headlines when they wreak their damage across the Caribbean and parts of southeastern USA. Most of them begin life thousands of miles away out in the Atlantic, close to northwest Africa.

Hurricanes draw their energy from warm seas and can only develop at 26 degrees Celsius. And they can only develop into significant storms when the sea temperature is 28 degrees Celsius, like a warm bath. It requires two elements to form around either developing wave patterns or thunderstorms, neither of which are found under high-pressure areas where descending air tends to keep the atmosphere stable.

Other limitations such as wind patterns in the upper atmosphere and the force of the earth’s rotation mean that hurricanes can only develop around narrowband between 8 and 20 degrees north of the Equator. That may seem like a tiny area, but it’s where the East Lee trade winds converge, and there’s a plentiful supply of moisture. So it’s a prime location for developing thunderstorms and the birthplace of the majority of hurricanes.

Safety precautions during & after Typhoon

What to do during the typhoon and after the typhoons? Here are tips to help you cope with any disturbance like a typhoon.

  • Stock up on emergency supplies before a typhoon comes.
  • Stock up food, water medicine radios, and flashlights.
  • Download valuable applications to your phone, such as the news app.
  • Don’t forget to charge your phone and prepare additional power banks fully.
  • Move electrical appliances to a safe place. Electrical appliances and leads should be moved indoors and kept away from windows.
  • Make sure the equipment has not suffered any water damage before using it again.
  • Turn off air conditioners exposed to strong winds can cause the motor of an air conditioner to run in the reverse direction. Switch off any air conditioners exposed to strong winds to prevent motor failure.
  • Check lifts and carry out improvement works where needed.
  • Typhoons can cause voltage dips, and elevators may be affected. Building managers should consider engaging contractors to conduct inspections before typhoons and carry out any improvement works needed.
  • Evacuate high-risk areas and unplug electricity before leaving. People in areas at risk of flooding should consider a temporary evacuation. Remember to lock the doors and windows and turn off the main power switch to avoid electrical incidents.
  • Stay calm during power outages. During a power outage, switch off all large appliances, report to the building management office, and wait patiently for engineers to carry out repairs. Leave one light on so you will know when power has been restored.
  • Use flashlights for emergency lighting. Candles can cause fires, so use flashlights only for emergency lighting in a power outage event.
  • Keep fridge doors closed. An unopened refrigerator will keep food cold for around 4 hours during a power outage. A full freezer will maintain its temperature for about two days.
  • Stay away from damaged equipment.

After a typhoon, emergency teams will work hard to restore power. Restoring electricity may take longer in areas where the damage is severe or access roads are blocked by fallen trees or flooding. In these situations, stay calm and listen to news bulletins. Do not touch damaged electrical equipment and report power outages to power companies. Engineers will arrive as soon as logistically possible. Stay calm and stay safe in the coming typhoon season.

More Articles:


Chris Landsea. “Subject: F1) What regions around the globe have tropical cyclones and who is responsible for forecasting there?”. Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres: D06108.
“What is the difference between a hurricane, a cyclone, and a typhoon?”. OCEAN FACTS. National Ocean Service.
Glossary of Meteorology. “Typhoon.” American Meteorological Society.

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