Typhoons are destructive storms of the Pacific

The eye of a typhoon.
The eye of a typhoon. Photo: Pixabay

Typhoons are tropical cyclones that rage in the Western Pacific.

Typhoons form in the same fashion as Atlantic tropical cyclones, i.e. hurricanes. Typhoons form when a low pressure area forms in conjunction with thunderstorm clusters to the North of the equator.

Thundershowers can strengthen and become typhoons 

In favourable conditions thundershower clouds begin to circle the low pressure area, and eventually this newly formed depression can become a tropical cyclone. 

Typhoons usually originate East of Indonesia over warm sea currents. The Southeast Asian airflow field typically directs typhoons over the Philippines towards the Korean peninsula and Japan. Occasionally typhoons hit China and Vietnam.

Typhoons originate over the warm Pacific ocean.
Typhoons originate over the warm Pacific ocean. Photo: Markus Mäntykannas, Tonga

The Philippines has the most tropical cyclones 

The Philippines have the largest number of tropical cyclones formed per surface area. One of the strongest and most destructive typhoons was Haiyan, a November 2013 typhoon. Hayan's wind gust speeds exceeded 225 mph.

The risk of typhoon damage is high in the Philippines area, as the Philippines are surrounded by very warm seas. The typhoon season is also much longer in the Philippines than in Florida or the Bay of Mexico.

Typhoons are most frequent from June until November, but they can also occur during winter months.

The average number of typhoons per month (source: JTWC)
Average number per year26,6

Typhoon intensity 

Typhoon intensities are measured slightly differently from hurricanes. There are two distinct typhoon intensity scales. JMA (Japan Meteorological Agency) has developed the following classification system:

Typhoon classification
CategoryWind speed
Tropical depressionbelow 38 mph
Tropical storm38–55 mph
Severe tropical storm56–73 mph
Typhoon74–98 mph
Very Strong Typhoon98–120 mph
Violent Typhoonover 120 mph

Article last updated 9/21/2021, 4:03:00 PM

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