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Cyclone and Thunderstorm

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Cause and Effects of Thunderstorms and Cyclones

Thunderstorms and cyclones are both natural phenomena occurring in nature for time immemorial. However, not many are aware of its causes, although they might know about its effects. 

The effects of cyclones and thunderstorms are visible, though the causes are not. Notably, cyclones are often named based on their place of origin, and consequently mostly named in a varying sort of manner in different areas. For instance, these phenomena arising around the Atlantic or the Pacific Ocean are usually called hurricanes. On the other hand, when these occur in the Northwest Pacific, they are typically termed typhoons.

So, students must understand the basics related to the reason for cyclones and their occurrences before delving deeper into it. Here is a detailed study on the definitions, causes and effects of cyclones.


What are Cyclones?

Cyclones are nothing but ocean storms. In simple words, these are storms that take place on a large water body, specifically the ocean. The water spins around an area of low pressure, which is called the technical term eye. 

The eye is right in the center of these storms, and the outer portions of the spinning storm give rise to immense wind and rainfall. The causes of cyclones are a continuous rise of hot air and filling of the gap by cool air around.


What are Thunderstorms?

As the name suggests, thunderstorms are gushes of wind that are accompanied by thunder and lightning. This is mainly caused due to the rising of hot air, similar to cyclones. However, unlike in cyclones, the rapid and continuous rise in warm air causes the wind to move even faster, thereby causing thunderstorms.

To clearly understand this, you should know how cyclones are caused. Consequently, it will also help you in providing clarity on how thunderstorms are formed. Because both originate as a result of rapid warm air rising, it is vital to note their differences in detail.


What are the Types of Cyclones?

As already mentioned, cyclones are named differently in different places. However, they are classified into multiple types as well, based on their place of origin. Here is a brief explanation of how are cyclones formed along with their types -

  • Tropical cyclones

  • Polar cyclones

  • Mesocyclones

All these three types have their common reason for cyclone formation. The differences between these types are primarily based on their place of occurrence.


Explanation of the Types of Cyclones

Cyclones can be slightly confusing to understand because of the different terms used across the world to describe different kinds of cyclonic formations. You can also look up the different kinds of storms here. To understand the kinds of cyclones as well as the common terms used to describe them, you can read below.

There are four broad categories of cyclones. These are as follows:

  • Tropical Cyclones

When you think about cyclones, do you normally associate them with hurricanes or typhoons? If that's the case, then it's tropical cyclones you're thinking of. Tropical cyclones are formed by winds funneling into low-pressure areas and evaporating warm surface water. This evaporated water vapor then rises higher and becomes a cloud formation around the circling winds. These cyclones are typically known as just "Cyclones" in the South-Asian areas, whereas they are known as "Hurricanes" in the North Atlantic and Northeast Pacific areas, and as "Typhoons" in the Northwest Pacific areas.

  • Mesocyclones

Mesocyclones are also known as "tornado factories." Although cyclones and tornadoes are often used interchangeably, they are two completely different storm formations. Mesocyclones are formed due to extremely strong thunderstorms, called supercell thunderstorms. These thunderstorms create a rising funnel of extremely high-speed winds, even higher than tropical cyclones. Sometimes, mesocyclones may result in rotating "wall clouds" that slowly descend towards the ground. If those wall clouds touch the ground, they become what are known as tornadoes.

  • Extratropical Cyclones

These cyclones, also known as midlatitude cyclones, form in the middle latitude areas due to temperature gradients between adjacent air masses. The cyclones produced here tend to cover a much larger area than tropical cyclones, although the winds also tend to be weaker.

  • Polar Lows

Polar Lows, also known as Arctic Hurricanes, form in the Arctic and Antarctic oceans. These cyclones are caused by extremely cold air moving over slightly warmer waters. Although they have a similar formation as the tropical cyclones, they generally form much faster and are harder to predict.

What are the Causes and Effects of Cyclones?

As you look for cyclone causes and effects, go through the following points to gain clarity.

  • They are caused in areas with lower atmospheric pressure.

  • Usually, areas located near the equator face cyclones. 

  • What causes cyclones is the rising of warm air over the ocean surface.

  • Once the warm air rises, the surrounding cool air rushes into this space.

  • The cool air heats up and again rises in the atmosphere.

  • This process goes on to take place continuously. 

  • The rapid rise causes the formation of an eye-like structure in the center. 

  • Likewise, the low-pressure area gets continually filled with high-pressure wind.

Hence, the above step-by-step process explains the causes of cyclones in points. You must note, the effect of both cyclones and thunderstorms can be devastating with damage to life, as well as property. These are often responsible for flash floods caused by heavy rainfall which accompanies them. 

To know more about thunderstorms and cyclones, you can look into our online learning programs for a clear understanding. You can even download our Vedantu app for a convenient user experience and access to detailed study material on every topic in your curricula.

To get more ideas about thunderstorms and cyclones, visit Vedantu and find out what the experts have to say about the different types and topics.

Last updated date: 23rd May 2023
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FAQs on Cyclone and Thunderstorm

1. What Are Cyclones?

Cyclones are wind storms accompanied by heavy rainfall in low-pressure areas. They are caused due to a continuous process of rising hot air over the ocean surface. This vacant space is then occupied by the cool air around, which further heats up and rises. In simple terms, a cyclone is a continuous high-speed wind that moves in a circular motion around a point of low atmospheric pressure. Cyclones in the Northern Hemisphere rotate in a counter-clockwise manner, while cyclones in the Southern Hemisphere rotate in a clockwise manner.

2. How are Thunderstorms Different from Cyclones?

Both thunderstorms and cyclones are nearly the same due to their cause of occurrence. However, a cyclone can be said to be more of a rotating or spinning wind. Contrarily, a thunderstorm may not always be spinning in nature. The main difference between cyclones and thunderstorms is the forces causing them. Thunderstorms are usually a combination of high-speed winds along with heavy rainfall and thunder and lightning. In a thunderstorm, there is no particular motion pattern of the wind or rain. Cyclones, on the other hand, are formed by a build-up of high-speed winds around a point of low atmospheric pressure, leading to the winds moving in a circular, or spiraling, motion around the low atmospheric center.

3. What are the Effects of Cyclones?

To know the effects of cyclones, it is essential to understand what are the main causes of cyclones. As the cyclone causes tremendous wind and rainfall, it usually leads to the destruction of property and loss of lives in the areas where it occurs. The most characteristic feature of a cyclone is it's extremely fast winds. Cyclones form into spiraling conical shapes much like a tornado. As a result, their sheer destructive power is immense. Cyclonic winds are capable of picking up entire vehicles, trees, heavy containers, and so on, and flinging them through the air with little effort. As a result, coastal areas that are susceptible to cyclones are always on high alert for any hint of the formation of a cyclone so that citizens can be evacuated immediately.

4. What to do in the event of a cyclone or thunderstorm?

If you live in a coastal area, there is a chance that your area could be hit by a cyclone. Most places have a team in place that monitors weather patterns out at sea. These teams are trained in noticing the warning signs of a cyclone formation. The moment a cyclone forms, the teams monitor the movement of the cyclone to predict its path and see where it will hit land. If the area it is predicted to hit is populated, authorities may issue a warning.

The warning might simply be for stronger winds and rain, with advice to stay inside your homes. This is usually when the cyclone is predicted to hit an area only on the periphery. However, the winds in the middle of the cyclone are the most destructive, so if a cyclone is about to hit a populated area head on, you may be warned to evacuate the area. Regardless of the kind of warning, you should always heed what the authorities say in the case of a cyclone.

5. Where can I find more information about Cyclones and Thunderstorms?

To find more information about Cyclones and Thunderstorms, you can browse through the Vedantu website or app. Vedantu has provided a long list of resources for students to refer to and all of these resources are completely free to download. Although you will need to create an account before you begin your download, creating an account on Vedantu is also free and takes less than 5 minutes. To find more information about Cyclones, thunderstorms and other kinds of storm formations, you can click here. You can also browse the website for answers to some of the common questions about Cyclones and Thunderstorms.