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Location of tropical cyclones

Tropical cyclones occur around the equator at 5 ° - 30 ° but also have varying names depending upon where in the world they form.

In the northern hemisphere, tropical cyclones occur between June and November peaking in September. In the southern hemisphere, the season lasts from November to April but storms remain less common here than in the northern hemisphere. More than one tropical storm can occur in the same ocean and region at once. Due to the Coriolis effect, the storms surface wind will be deflected to the right in the northern hemisphere to rotate counter-clockwise and to the left, to rotate clockwise in the southern hemisphere.

When the average wind speed of the storm reaches 74 mph, the tropical cyclone is classified by various different names globally despite resulting from the same process:

  • Hurricanes - Atlantic and North-East Pacific Oceans
  • Typhoon/Super typhoon - North-West Pacific Ocean
  • Severe tropical cyclone - South-West Pacific and South- East Indian Ocean
  • Severe cyclonic storm - North Indian Ocean
  • Tropical cyclone - South-West Indian Ocean

Distribution

Tropical cyclones are most frequently seen to make landfall and impact in the USA and Asia. There are seven basins in which tropical storms are seen to form regularly at different times throughout the year, these are sometimes referred to as seasons.

  • Atlantic basin: June - November
  • North- East Pacific basin: Late May/early June - Late October/early November
  • North- West Pacific basin: Occur all year round. Main season - July- November
  • North Indian basin: April - December
  • South- West Indian basin: Late October/early November - May
  • South- East Indian/Australian basin: Late October/early November - May
  • Australian/South- West Pacific basin: Late October/early November - May

Observing tropical cyclone tracks

The image below, produced by Nasa, shows the actual observed tracks of tropical cyclones over 20 years from 1985 to 2005 and clearly shows their formation in the zones displayed in the previous diagram:

     Tracks of all tropical cyclones formed from 1985 to 2005. Photo: Nasa

Did you know that you can track the real-time development and movement of tropical cyclones on our StormTracker map?

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