Typhoon vs Hurricane what's the difference?

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The devastation left behind from Super Typhoon Haiyan in the Leyte and Samar provinces in the Philippines, is incredible. Thousands killed and many thousands more left homeless as a result of extreme winds which ripped through the Island communities in the W. Pacific a week ago today.

Color enhanced image of Haiyan prior to landfall

The estimated sustained winds of 195 mph, makes it one of the strongest tropical cyclones ever to make landfall. Hurricane Camille in 1969 had winds of 190 mph when it blasted into Mississippi, the strongest ever to hit the U.S.

People have been inquiring as to what the differences are between a typhoon and a hurricane. There really aren't any differences just the fact that storms or cyclones which form west of the International Date Line are called Typhoons, while in the E. Pacific and the Atlantic basin they are referred to as Hurricanes. They both spin counterclockwise in the N. Hemisphere, and clockwise in the S. Hemisphere.

Typically there are more storms in the W. Pacific due to the larger area of warm water in the Pacific Ocean. More oceanic heat content, usually produces more storms. In the Indian Ocean they are called "Cyclones".

On average 25 storms a year form in the W. Pacific, and the season runs throughout the year. The peak is from June through October. There are a couple of agencies which give the typhoons names. The Japan Meteorological Agency and the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services name the storms. So a typhoon may have two different names during its life cycle. 

The folks in the Philippines are still struggling and any support you can give them will go a long way in helping these people get back on their feet.

Bob Harrigan