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Tropical Cyclones Portal

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Typhoon tip peak.jpg

A tropical cyclone is a storm system characterized by a large low-pressure center and numerous thunderstorms that produce strong winds and heavy rainfall. Tropical cyclones feed on the heat released when moist air rises, resulting in condensation of water vapor contained in the moist air. They are fuelled by a different heat mechanism than other cyclonic windstorms such as nor'easters, European windstorms, and polar lows, leading to their classification as 'warm core' storm systems. Tropical cyclones originate in the doldrums near the Equator, approximately 10 degrees away.

The term 'tropical' refers to both the geographic origin of these systems, which form almost exclusively in tropical regions of the globe, and their formation in maritime tropical air masses. The term 'cyclone' refers to such storms' cyclonic nature, with anticlockwise rotation in the Northern Hemisphere and clockwise rotation in the Southern Hemisphere. Depending on its location and intensity, a tropical cyclone can be referred to by names such as 'hurricane', 'typhoon', 'tropical storm', 'cyclonic storm', 'tropical depression', or simply 'cyclone'.

Pictured: Typhoon Tip

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Impact of a storm surge


A storm surge is an offshore rise of water associated with a low pressure weather system, typically a tropical cyclone. Storm surge is caused primarily by high winds pushing on the ocean's surface. The wind causes the water to pile up higher than the ordinary sea level. Low pressure at the center of a weather system also has a small secondary effect, as can the bathymetry of the body of water. It is this combined effect of low pressure and persistent wind over a shallow water body which is the most common cause of storm surge flooding problems. The term "storm surge" in casual (non-scientific) use is storm tide; that is, it refers to the rise of water associated with the storm, plus tide, wave run-up, and freshwater flooding. When referencing storm surge height, it is important to clarify the usage, as well as the reference point. NHC tropical storm reports reference storm surge as water height above predicted astronomical tide level, and storm tide as water height above NGVD-29.

In areas where there is a significant difference between low tide and high tide, storm surges are particularly damaging when they occur at the time of a high tide. In these cases, this increases the difficulty of predicting the magnitude of a storm surge since it requires weather forecasts to be accurate to within a few hours. Storm surges can be produced by non-tropical storms, such as the "Halloween Storm" of 1991 and the Storm of the Century (1993), but the most extreme storm surge events occur as a result of extreme weather systems, such as tropical cyclones. Factors that determine the surge heights for landfalling tropical cyclones include the speed, intensity, size of the radius of maximum winds (RMW), radius of the wind fields, angle of the track relative to the coastline, the physical characteristics of the coastline and the bathymetry of the water offshore. The SLOSH (Sea, Lake, and Overland Surges from Hurricanes) model is used to simulate surge from tropical cyclones.

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Hurricane Dean from Space.jpg

Crewmembers on the Space Shuttle Endeavour captured this image around Noon CDT of Hurricane Dean in the Caribbean. At the time the shuttle and International Space Station passed overhead, the Category 4 storm was moving westerly at 17 mph nearing Jamaica carrying sustained winds of 150 mph.


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Related WikiProjects

WikiProject Tropical cyclones is the central point of coordination for Wikipedia's coverage of tropical cyclones. Feel free to help!

WikiProject Meteorology is the main center point of coordination for Wikipedia's coverage of meteorology in general.

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Did you know…

Chris jan 13 1982 0950Z.jpg
Tracks of Atlantic-Pacific crossover storms.png
Hurricane Ida in the Yucatan Channel November 8 2009.jpg
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Tropical cyclone anniversaries

Russ dec 18 1990 0351Z.jpg
  • December 19, 1990 - Typhoon Russ (pictured) reached its peak intensity with a central pressure of 915 hPa (mbar) to the southeast of Guam.
Hurricane Lili (1984).JPG
Tropical Storm Bobbi (1994).JPG
Ben Dec 21 1979 0706Z.png
Typhoon Faxai (2001).JPG



Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portal:Tropical_cyclones — Please support Wikipedia.
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