Dear Tom,

I always get confused why there are different names for similar wind-related weather like typhoons, cyclones, and hurricanes.  What are the differences? What are the differences?


Dear Sdpawlan

 The only difference is the storm’s location; they are all regionally specific names for tropical cyclones. The storms are called hurricanes in the Atlantic, eastern, and southwest Pacific and Caribbean; typhoons in the northwest Pacific; and cyclones in the Indian Ocean, with the names evolving from cultures they affect. “Hurricane” is likely derived from “huracan,” a Taino and Carib god, or hunraken, the Mayan storm god. “Typhoon” may originate from the Cantonese t’ai fung (a great wind), the Arabic tufan (smoke) or the Greek typhon (monster). In the Indian Ocean, these storms are simply referred to as severe cyclonic storms or cyclones. Cyclone is also used in a non-tropical sense for tornadoes, waterspouts, dust storms, or any low pressure.