What is a typhoon and how do they cause so much damage?

Typhoon Haiyan

Hurricanes, cyclones and typhoons are all the same thing, but they are given different names depending on where they appear.

Tropical storms over the North Atlantic Ocean are called hurricanes. Over the Indian Ocean they're called cyclones and over the Pacific Ocean we call them typhoons.

Why do storms have names?

Tropical storms last a long time and are given names so they can be identified quickly.

The first storm of a year will have a name beginning with A, such as Hurricane Alice, and the next one gets a name beginning with B.

There are regular meetings of weather scientists who decide on new names for the next year.

Names of storms which cause a lot of damage are never used again.

What happens in a tropical storm?

Waves destroy a building

Air rises quickly when it is heated by warm sea water.

As the air cools down again it is pushed aside by more warm air rising below it.

This cycle causes strong winds. Tropical storms have winds faster than 73 miles an hour.

What damage do tropical storms cause?

Damage from a Typhoon

Over the sea a tropical storm can whip up huge waves.

When these waves reach land they can flood large areas, including towns and cities.

Over land the strong winds can cause a lot of damage - they can flatten homes, knock over trees and even tip over cars.

Tropical storms usually die out after a few days over land because there is no warm sea water there to power them.

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