Science, Tech, Math › Science Differences Between Hurricanes, Typhoons, and Cyclones Share Flipboard Email Print Tetra Images/Getty Images Science Weather & Climate Storms & Other Phenomena Basics Forecasting Chemistry Biology Physics Geology Astronomy by Rachelle Oblack Rachelle Oblack is a K-12 science educator and Holt McDougal science textbook writer. She specializes in climate and weather. Updated February 02, 2019 During hurricane season, you may hear the terms hurricane, typhoon, and cyclone used often, but what does each mean? While all three of these terms have to do with tropical cyclones, they are not the same thing. Which one you use depends on which part of the world the tropical cyclone is in. Hurricanes Mature tropical cyclones with winds of 74 mph or more that exist anywhere in the North Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico, or in the eastern or central North Pacific Ocean east of the International Date Line are called "hurricanes." As long as a hurricane stays within any of the above-mentioned waters, even if it crosses from one basin to a neighboring basin (i.e., from the Atlantic to the Eastern Pacific), it will still be called a hurricane. A notable example of this is Hurricane Flossie (2007). Hurricane Ioke (2006) is an example of a tropical cyclone that did change titles. It strengthened into a hurricane just south of Honolulu, Hawaii. 6 days later, it crossed the International Date Line into the Western Pacific basin, becoming Typhoon Ioke. Learn more about why we name hurricanes. The National Hurricane Center (NHC) monitors and issues forecasts for hurricanes occurring in these regions. The NHC classifies any hurricane with wind speeds of at least 111 mph as a major hurricane. Category Name Sustained Winds (1-minute) Category 1 74-95 mph Category 2 96-110 mph Category 3 (major) 111-129 mph Category 4 (major) 130-156 mph Category 5 (major) 157+ mph The NHC Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale Typhoons Typhoons are mature tropical cyclones that form in the Northwest Pacific basin — the western part of the North Pacific Ocean, between 180° (the International Date Line) and 100° East longitude. The Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) is in charge of monitoring typhoons and issuing typhoon forecasts. Similarly to the National Hurricane Center's major hurricanes, the JMA classifies strong typhoons with winds of at least 92 mph as severe typhoons, and those with winds of at least 120 mph as super typhoons. Category Name Sustained Winds (10-minute) Typhoon 73-91 mph Very Strong Typhoon 98-120 mph Violent Typhoon 121+ mph The JMA Typhoon Intensity Scale Cyclones Mature tropical cyclones within the North Indian Ocean between 100° E and 45° E are called "cyclones." The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) monitors cyclones and classifies them according to the below intensity scale: Category Sustained Winds (3-minute) Cyclonic Storm 39-54 mph Severe Cyclonic Storm 55-72 mph Very Severe Cyclonic Storm 73-102 mph Extremely Severe Cyclonic Storm 103-137 mph Super Cyclonic Storm 138+ mph IMD TC Intensity Scale To make matters more confusing, we sometimes refer to hurricanes in the Atlantic as cyclones too — that's because, in a broad sense of the word, they are. In weather, any storm that has a closed circular and counterclockwise motion can be called a cyclone. By this definition, hurricanes, mesocyclone thunderstorms, tornadoes, and even extratropical cyclones (weather fronts) are all technically cyclones! Continue Reading Why Do We Call Them "Hurricanes"? U.S. Residents: Should You Worry About Eastern Pacific Hurricanes? Learn About Hurricanes, Typhoons, and Cyclones 10 Most Powerful Hurricanes and Typhoons Ever Prefer to Live or Vacation Near These Oceans? So Do Hurricanes. Weather and Atmospheric Conditions That Cause Hurricanes Where Tropical Cyclones Form and How They Are Named When Are Hurricanes Most Active? Could Atlantic Hurricanes Really Form in the Sahara? 10 Essential Facts About Fish Which Hurricanes Were the Most Devastating? Which Is Worse, Thunderstorms, Tornadoes, or Hurricanes? When Does Hurricane Season Start and Stop? What It's Like to Experience a Hurricane Fujiwhara Effect - Two Hurricanes Interacting What Kind of Tropical Wave Can Change the Weather?