What is a Cyclone?

Cyclone seen from Space

A tropical cyclone is a low-pressure system which develops in the tropics and is sufficiently intense to produce sustained gale force winds of at least 63km/h. If the sustained wind reaches hurricane force of at least 118km/h the system is defined as a severe tropical cyclone. In other parts of the world they are called hurricanes or typhoons. Tropical cyclones can cause significant phenomena which can adversely, and sometimes favourably impact on communities and the environment. The most common features are destructive winds and heavy rainfall that can lead to flooding. Storm surge, or coastal inundation by seawater, is a lesser known phenomenon but can be the most dangerous element of a cyclone. Though rare in Australia, tornadoes have been reported during cyclone events.

Severe wind
In tropical cyclones, wind gusts in excess of 90km/h can be expected around their centre, or eye, while in the most severe events, gusts can exceed 360km/h. Although the strongest winds are near the eye, damaging winds can extend hundreds of kilometres from the centre. The eye can have quite calm winds and cloud-free skies, but this lull is temporary and is followed by destructive winds from another direction. This is because, from above, the winds spiral around the eye in a clockwise direction (in the Southern Hemisphere). The effect of this on the ground is that winds on opposite sides of the eye blow in different directions. Wind damage is mostly caused by the maximum gusts in the cyclone. For this reason, the well-known tropical cyclone severity categories used by the Bureau of Meteorology to communicate warnings are based on maximum gust strengths.

Heavy rainfall
Because tropical cyclones form over warm tropical oceans, they generally hold enormous amounts of moisture and can produce heavy rainfall over extensive areas. Rain can create severe impacts by causing floods and landslides and through the direct damage of materials by contact, such as being driven by wind into buildings. Direct damage is generally the result of wind damage to walls, windows or roofs, which allows water to penetrate buildings. Rainfall can be associated with the tropical cyclone when it impacts on the coast or further inland as it weakens to become a tropical depression. Heavy rain from tropical cyclones or tropical depressions can often reach Australia's more southerly latitudes where the rainfall is a major source of water for the country's inland river and ground water systems. Flooding can wreak havoc over vast areas, inundating land, isolating communities and destroying infrastructure.

Storm surge
Potentially the most dangerous hazard associated with tropical cyclones which make landfall is storm surge. Storm surge has been responsible for more deaths than any other feature of tropical cyclones. Storm surge is a raised dome of water about 60 to 80 kilometres across and typically about two to five metres higher than the normal tide level. It is caused by a combination of strong winds driving water onshore and the lower atmospheric pressure in a tropical cyclone. In the southern hemisphere the onshore winds occur to the left of the tropical cyclone's path. In Australia, this is the east side on the north west and north coasts and the south side on the east coast. The largest surge usually extends between 30 and 60 kilometres from the crossing point of the tropical cyclone centre, or eye. Its influence also depends on the local topography of the seafloor and the angle at which the cyclone crosses the coast. If the surge occurs at the same time as a high astronomical tide the area inundated can be extensive, particularly along low-lying coastlines.
Interesting fact: Tropical cyclone Tracy is the smallest recorded cyclone, with a radius of gales extending less than 50 kilometres. The largest tropical cyclone on record is Typhoon Tip which had gales over a radius 1100 kilometres in the north-west Pacific Ocean.

The only difference between a hurricane, a cyclone, and a typhoon is the location where the storm occurs
Hurricanes, cyclones, and typhoons are all the same weather phenomenon; we just use different names for these storms in different places. In the Atlantic and Northeast Pacific, the term “hurricane” is used. The same type of disturbance in the Northwest Pacific is called a “typhoon” and “cyclones” occur in the South Pacific and Indian Ocean.

which divides wind speeds into 12 forces. hurricane season officially runs June 1 to November 30. Sometimes it moves slowly creating a gentle breeze. kilometres per hour and by knots. The wind speed is measured using an anemometer. Force 4 is a moderate breeze. It may be so windy that it is difficult to walk. and hurricanes have occurred outside of these six months. moisture. the wind direction can be found by looking at the direction the arm is pointing from. and have a moveable arm that can point in any direction. they can combine to produce the violent winds. warm tropical oceans. The wind vane will show clearly the 4 principle directions of the compass: North. The wind force can be identified using the Beaufort scale. Wind speed can be measured in miles per hour. while 97 percent of tropical activity occurs during this time period. but we can see what it does to trees outside and kites on the beach. Force 0 means calm. If you are outside on a windy day you can sometimes feel the wind on your face. incredible waves. For example. Another way to find out wind direction is by using a wind sock which you may have seen at airports or airfields. East. In the Atlantic. and relatively light winds. This wind or weather vane is usually made from a strong material. which rotates depending on the wind. One of the oldest pieces of equipment used to measure weather is a wind vane. (like metal) and placed above ground. The earth’s atmosphere and air around us is always moving. there is nothing magical in these dates. Most weather stations measure wind speed using a spinning cup anemometer. Other times it can move faster creating stronger. If the right conditions persist long enough. more powerful winds.Both the direction and speed of the wind should be measured for weather observations. Once true north is known (using a compass). while the maximum is hurricane force 12. usually on roofs A spinning cup anemometer measuring wind speed at Canterbury Broad Oak . torrential rains. Force 8 is a gale. and floods we associate with this phenomenon. A wind vane. air moving from east to west will create an easterly wind. You can learn more about very powerful winds on the extreme weather pages. South and West. usually on top of a building.The ingredients for these storms include a pre-existing weather disturbance. We cannot see the wind. However. Wind is simply moving air.

The rain gauge is quite accurate as long as it is set up safely at ground level in an exposed place. more than 3. releasing it slowly at night and warming the surrounding air. rainfall is a very common type of weather. Temperature is usually higher during the day than at night. . snow. the card is scorched creating a record of how many sunshine hours there were. It then moves up a small tube alongside a scale. hail. Light rain. A liquid (usually alcohol) expands depending on temperature. large white. Rural areas (the countryside) are often cooler than towns and cities. Thermometers should be put within a Stevenson Screen to stop temperature readings being affected by direct sunlight. This is because there are more buildings and factories ( known as 'heat islands') which absorb heat during the day. In the British Isles. sleet and dew. Rain starts above us when small droplets of water in the clouds join together until they get too big and heavy and fall from the clouds. fluffycumulonimbus clouds. the sun is covered by clouds for less than 100 hours a year. As the sun moves round during the day. There is usually more sunshine where atmospheric pressure is higher. Temperature is measured using a thermometer. Hours of sunshine are usually recorded on a simple machine called a parheliometer also known as a Campbell-Stokes recorder. he amount of sunshine we have depends on latitude and how much cloud there is in the sky. In the Eastern Sahara desert. Heavy rainfall after a hot summer day may fall from tall. layered cloud called stratus. with units in degrees on Fahrenheit (ºF) or Celcius (ºC) scales. It includes rain. may fall from low. Temperature is the measure of how cold or hot somewhere is. In Britain we have from 1. grey.Precipitation is the release of water from the atmosphere to the earth’s surface as a solid or liquid. from which temperature readings can be made. The amount of rainfall collected in the gauge is measured inmillimetres. It is useful to measure the amount of rainfall we have. In some of the world's deserts the number of sunshine hours is very high. The main type of thermometer used is the liquid-in-glass thermometer. Rainfall data can be used to work out monthly averages and make comparisons with previous years. different cloud types can produce different rainfall.850 hours in Southern England to 1. as it provides an important source of water toreservoirs giving us drinking water. also known as drizzle. Rainfall is easy to measure by recording how much water collects in a rain gauge. It works by using a glass ball to focus the sunlight and rays onto a strip of card.600 hours each year.200 hours in North Scotland. However.

Clouds can form in a few minutes or over a number of hours. and nimbostratus (below 2. and no matter how fast you run the fog seems just as thick and just as far away from you. foggy etc. In the United Kingdom we mainly see fog in autumn and winter. moisture in the air condenses near the ground making fog or mist. There are two types of fog. Click to find out more: 1. taking into account fog. moist air rises into the sky where it cools down and condenses. In weather terms it is how clear the atmosphereand air are. People living high in the mountains may see fog all year. There are many different types of cloud and looking at them can help you to predict the weather. Clouds are made when quite warm. This is because there is no insulating blanket of air above to keep the earth's heat in. The city of San Francisco in North America is famous for its thick mist that moves in from the Pacific Ocean.000 meters) Includes: Stratocumulus. Heavy Cirrocumulus Cirrostratus Altocumulus MEDIUM Altostratus Nimbostratus Stratocumulus Grey/white LOW Stratus Cumulus Grey Grey/white Cumulonimbus Grey/white . The air closest to the ground cools rapidly. cirrocumulus. which is why you can sometimes get wet when walking through fog. poor. altostratus. No breaks. but some tropical parts of the world may never have seen fog. mist and urban pollution. Advection Fog 2. smooth transparent sheet Layers and waves often separated by blue sky Thin sheets/layers Thick sheets Layers in rounded rolls. and Cumulonimbus Name Cirrus Colour White White Whitish White/grey Greyish Dark grey Description Thin silky and feathery Ripples/bumps Fat.500-14.000 meters) Includes: Cirrus. Cumulus. with all the water vapour in the air condensing as tiny floating droplets of water.We have all seen a foggy day when it is difficult to see. clear skies and damp air. They are made up of lots of tiny water droplets. When there is a light breeze. Fog and mist are like clouds on the ground. Thin sheet blanketing sky Puffy clouds Very tall puffy clouds Weather Fair Fair Worsening Fair Rain on way Continuous rain/snow Dry/dull Drizzle Good Storms.000 meters) Includes: Altocumulus. Stratus.000-7. Visibility is simply how far you can see. Consider whether the cloud is: HIGH MEDIUM LOW Altitude HIGH (5. Visibility can be estimated using descriptive words such as: good. Radiation Fog Clouds are made up of millions of tiny water droplets. Cloud can be measured through a number of observations. and cirrostratus (2. How far you can see is also used to describe visibility: Fog – less than 1km Poor – 1 to 5km Moderate – 5 to 10km Good – more than 10km Different environments around the world experience different levels of fog.

more than half cloud cover but with some breaks in the cloud Overcast . 2013. Deserts have a hot and dry climate while the Antarctic has a very cold and dry climate. The climate is the common. what we do. The difference in temperature between them can be calculated to give relative humidity.complete cloud cover Pressure is the weight of the atmosphere on the earth’s surface. [1] .no cloud cover Partly cloudy . but it is something quite different. the air is always evaporating and storing water from rivers. It is an important part of our lives and one that we cannot control. what we wear and what we eat. For example: It was raining today at school. Click on the different types of weather above to find out more about them and how they can be measured. The weather is all around us. Humidity is how much water vapour is in the atmosphere. average weather conditions at a particular place over a long period of time (for example. Tropical cyclones entering the Philippine Area of Responsibility are given a local name by the Philippine Atmospheric. while rises in pressure mean conditions are more stable and fair weather is returning. Relative humidity is a measure of how much water vapour is actually in the air compared to how much water vapour the air could hold. lakes and oceans. This is measured using a wet and dry hygrometer. In tropical parts of the world. Weather is made up of different things. 15-hour period in Baguio City. all the time. Someone who studies the weather is called a meteorologist.210 millimetres (87 in) of rainfall within a [6] 3-day. Geophysical and Astronomical Services [2][3] Administration (PAGASA).rain/hail/snow The amount of cloud in the sky is measured in eighths (or oktas by meteorologists). Weather predictions are made by forecasters who you see on television. which also raises public storm signal warnings as deemed necessary. the deadliest storm was Typhoon Haiyan. The deadliest overall tropical cyclone to impact the Philippines is believed to have been the September 1881 typhoon which is estimated to have killed up to 20. Humidity must be high for fog or clouds to form.000 people as it passed over the country in September 1881. What is Climate? Climate is often spoken about at the same time as weather. Yesterday it was sunny at home. We learn about different climates around the world. one is kept wet in distilled water and the other dry. which can be kept indoors. This atmospheric pressure is lower at the top of mountains and highest at sea level.less than half cloud cover Mainly cloudy . Simple observation can be made such as Clear . warm air is able to hold more water vapour and humidity is higher as a result. more than 30 years). In modern meteorological records. Around 19 tropical cyclones or storms enter the Philippine Area of Responsibility in a typical year and of these usually 6 to 9 make [4][5] landfall. which became the strongest landfalling tropical cyclone ever recorded as it crossed the Central Philippines on November 7-8. Rapid drops in air pressure mean unstable conditions and a storm is on its way. tropical cyclones (typhoons) are called bagyo. This type of thermometer has two bulbs. Weather Definition Weather is the day-to-day conditions of a particular place. Atmospheric pressure is measured with a barometer. The wettest known tropical cyclone to impact the archipelago was the July 14–18. Tropical cyclones usually account for at least 30 percent of the annual rainfall in the northern Philippines while being responsible for less than 10 percent of the annual rainfall in the southern islands. 1911 cyclone which dropped over 2. Instead the weather often controls how and where we live. This is beacuse all the air above the sea pushes down on its' surface. In the Philippines. Like a sponge.

may suffer significant damage when it is in its flowering stage. . business may be carried out as usual except when floods occur. (When the tropical cyclone develops very close to the locality . o Meteorological Conditions . only very light or no damage at all may be sustained by the exposed communities. this signal may be upgraded to the next higher level. however. for example. the eastern coast of Luzon is very sparsely populated.Disaster preparedness is activated to alert status. .Some houses of very light materials (nipa and cogon) may be partially unroofed.a shorter lead time of the occurrence of the winds will be specified in the warning bulletin) o Impact of the Winds . .When the tropical cyclone is strong or is intensifying and is moving closer. o Meteorological Conditions .The Philippines is the most-exposed large country in the world to tropical cyclones. .A tropical cyclone will affect the locality. In the meantime.60 kilometers per hour (kph) may be expected in at least 36 hours or intermittent rains may be expected within 36 hours.Twigs and branches of small trees may be broken. .Some banana plants may be tilted or downed.The people are advised to listen to the latest severe weather bulletin issued by PAGASA every six (6) hours.Unless this warning signal is upgraded during the entire existence of the tropical cyclone.A tropical cyclone will affect the locality. .The waves on coastal waters may gradually develop and become bigger and higher. .Rice crop. . o Precautionary Measures . .Winds of 30 . and it has even affected settlement patterns in the northern islands.

.60 kilometers per hour (kph) may be expected in at least 36 hours or intermittent rains may be expected within 36 hours. . however. only very light or no damage at all may be sustained by the exposed communities.Disaster preparedness is activated to alert status.Winds greater than 100 kph up to 185 kph may be expected in at least 18 hours. business may be carried out as usual except when floods occur.Rice crop. . . In the meantime. . .Some houses of very light materials (nipa and cogon) may be partially unroofed. .When the tropical cyclone is strong or is intensifying and is moving closer. o Precautionary Measures .. this signal may be upgraded to the next higher level.a shorter lead time of the occurrence of the winds will be specified in the warning bulletin) o Impact of the Winds .A tropical cyclone will affect the locality. may suffer significant damage when it is in its flowering stage. Impact of the Winds o . o Meteorological Conditions .Unless this warning signal is upgraded during the entire existence of the tropical cyclone.The waves on coastal waters may gradually develop and become bigger and higher.The people are advised to listen to the latest severe weather bulletin issued by PAGASA every six (6) hours. .Twigs and branches of small trees may be broken. (When the tropical cyclone develops very close to the locality .Winds of 30 .Some banana plants may be tilted or downed.

. .There may be widespread disruption of electrical power and communication services (including the Internet). . evacuate low-lying areas and to stay away from the coasts and river banks.Watch out for the passage of the "eye" of the typhoon indicated by a sudden occurrence of fair weather immediately after very bad weather with very strong winds coming generally from the north.When the "eye" of the typhoon hit the community. .Many coconut trees may be broken or destroyed.. .Almost all banana plants may be downed and a large number of trees may be uprooted.Classes in all levels should be suspended and children should stay in the safety of strong buildings and evacuation centers.People are advised to seek shelter in strong buildings. .In general.The disturbance is dangerous to the communities threatened / affected. .Disaster preparedness and response agencies / organizations are in action with appropriate response to actual emergency. . .  Meteorological Condition . .A very intense typhoon will affect the locality.Majority of all nipa and cogon houses may be unroofed or destroyed and there may be considerable damage to structures of light to medium construction. o Precautionary Measures .The sea and coastal waters will be very dangerous to all types of seacrafts.Travel is very risky especially by sea and air.Rice and corn crops may suffer heavy losses. . .Very strong winds of more than 185 kph may be expected in at least 12 hours. do not venture away from the safe shelter because after one(1) to two(2) hours . practically in the agricultural and industrial sectors. .the worst weather will resume with the very strong winds coming from the south. moderate to heavy damage may be expected. .

Electrical power distribution and communication services (including Internet) may be severely disrupted.Most residential and institutional buildings of mixed construction may be severely damaged. damage to affected communities can be very heavy. Then a sudden improvement of the weather with light winds (a lull) will be experienced. As the "eye" of the typhoon approaches.The Disaster Coordinating Councils concerned and other disaster response organizations are now fully responding to emergencies and in full readiness to immediately response to possible calamity ty·phoon - typhoon ( aɪˈ uː ) [Greek tuphōn. . .a tropical cyclone occurring in the western Pacific or Indian oceans cyclone .All travels and outdoor activities should be canceled. typhoon .The situation is potentially very destructive to the community. . and Chinese (Cantonese) taaîfung (equivalent to Chinese (Mandarin) tái. whirlwind. This time the very strong winds will come generally from the south. wind). the weather will continuously worsen with the winds increasing to its strongest coming generally from the north. 4.Many large trees may be uprooted.] a violent tropical storm or cyclone.depending on the diameter of the "eye" and the speed of movement.a violent rotating windstorm . esp in the China seas and W Pacific Thesaurus Noun 1. the locality is very likely to be hit directly by the "eye" of the typhoon.Coconut plantation may suffer extensive damage.Rice and corn plantation may suffer severe losses. .With PSWS No.Evacuation to much safer shelters should have been completed since it may be too late under this situation. . and Arabic ṭūfān. deluge (from Greek tuphōn).In the overall. Impact of the Winds . great + Chinese (Mandarin) fēng. . . As the "eye" moves out of the locality. the worst weather experienced before the lull will suddenly commence. . esp in the China seas and W Pacific a violent tropical storm or cyclone. This means that the "eye" of the typhoon is over the locality.  Precautionary Measures . This improved weather may last for one(1) to two(2) hours . .