Ask Storm Team 11: What is the difference between a cyclone and hurricane?

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Today’s question from Suzanne Heller: what is the difference between a cyclone and a hurricane? Terminology is often misunderstood, and in this case, both terms describe the same weather phenomenon. The technical definition of a cyclone is a closed atmospheric circulation. This could include a nor’easter off the east coast, or a typhoon in the Pacific ocean, or refer to a more commonly known hurricane in the Atlantic basin.

A distinct difference between a cyclone and hurricane is the more specific definition of a hurricane. A hurricane is a cyclone with winds of at least 74 mph. Most cyclones with this kind of intensity are classified as hurricanes in the Atlantic Basin, while a typhoon is a term that references a similar strength storm in the western Pacific ocean. So, a cyclone is a generalization of a storm, while a hurricane is a more specific definition of a cyclone.

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