A typhoon is a violent cyclone that occurs in the northwest Pacific Ocean. Typhoons feature heavy rains and winds that maintain speeds equal to or greater than 74 miles (119 kilometers) per hour. Similar storms that occur in other parts of the world are called tropical cyclones or hurricanes. The word typhoon comes from the Chinese term tai-fung, meaning great wind.
Typhoons occur most frequently in the late summer. They form over warm seas between about 5 and 20 degrees of latitude from the equator. They tend to move west, northwest, and eventually northeast at speeds of 10 to 20 miles (16 to 32 kilometers) per hour. Inside a typhoon, strong winds blow in a counterclockwise direction around an area of low pressure at the storm's center, which is called the eye. The eye usually measures about 10 to 40 miles (16 to 64 kilometers) in diameter. The strongest winds blow inside the eyewall, a ring of clouds that surrounds the eye. These winds often reach speeds of more than 110 miles (180 kilometers) per hour.
What is the difference between a typhoon and a hurricane?
A typhoon is what hurricanes are called in the Pacific Ocean. Both hurricanes and typhoons are tropical cyclones. Hurricanes are a bit more specifically defined than typhoons. The American Heritage dictionary defines a hurricane as a severe tropical cyclone originating in the equatorial regions of the Atlantic Ocean or Caribbean Sea, traveling north, northwest, or northeast from its point of origin, and usually involving heavy rains. The same source describes a typhoon as a tropical cyclone occurring in the western Pacific or Indian oceans.