In appearance, a tropical cyclone is like a huge whirlpool - a gigantic mass of revolving moist air.
Tropical cyclones (or storms) are between 482-644 kilometres wide and 6-8 km high. They move forward at speeds of 16-24 km/h, but can travel as fast as 65 km/h. The Coriolis force caused by the rotation of the Earth causes the tropical cyclone to spin.
The central part of the tropical cyclone is known as the eye. The eye is usually 32-48 km across. It is an area of light wind speeds and no rain. It contains descending air.
When a tropical cyclone arrives at a coastline, it is potentially fatal and can cause damage to property. This is because tropical cyclones bring with them: