Dec 27, 2014

saturday med.itation: A Typhoon Is A Hurricane Is A Cyclone

Whirling winds come in at least four forms: simple whirlwinds that do little more than stir up dust on a hot day; tornadoes, which intensely sweep along a relatively small path; hurricanes, which are vast swirling storms covering many square miles; and regular low-pressure weather patterns representing the common not-so-dangerous storms that occur routinely. Traditionally we have used the word “cyclone” to describe any type of tempest that consists of dangerous twisting winds. But the word originated in the Old World, where the only “twisters” were what we refer to in North America as hurricanes. Consequently, “cyclone” has come to mean one of the large storms (like our hurricanes) that swirl out of the Indian Ocean and affect the weather of Europe and Western Asia. So a “cyclone” is a hurricane in the Indian Ocean.

New World explorers replaced the word “cyclone” with “hurricane,” a variation of the West Indian word for the storms. The word “hurricane” now refers only to large cyclonic storms that swirl out of the tropical Atlantic Ocean.

That leaves the Pacific Ocean. Can you figure out the word for hurricane-type storms in the Pacific? It’s “typhoon”, a word that has its origins in the languages of the South Pacific.

So a hurricane is a cyclone in the Atlantic Ocean, A typhoon is a cyclone in the Pacific Ocean, and the only place where the word “cyclone” is still commonly used as it was originally intended is in Indian Ocean.

By the way, in the Northern Hemisphere, cyclones whirl in a counter clockwise direction, whereas in the Southern Hemisphere they whirl clockwise. Scientist believes such storms regulate heat on earth and help equalize the natural precipitation that makes our planet such a perfect place for life. So, in a way, the storms are a necessary part of our existence in the world as we know it. When do you suppose cyclones began to appear on earth, and why?

source: Nature Quest

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