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International Cyclone Definitions

Hurricanes, Typhoons, and More

A “tropical cyclone” is the generic term for a giant whirlwind with storm activity surrounding a low-pressure center over tropical or subtropical waters. The terms “hurricane” and “typhoon” are regionally specific names for strong tropical cyclones. While the categories used don't match exactly, the following table is a rough guide for comparing the names given to storms in different parts of the world.

U.S. nameU.S. Saffir-
Simpson
Category Scale
NW
Pacific
Arabian Sea/
Bay of
Bengal
SW Indian
Ocean
South
Pacific
(East of
160E)
Australian
name
Australian
category
Tropical DepressionTropical DepressionDepression or Severe DepressionTropical DepressionTropical DepressionTropical Low
Tropical StormTropical StormCyclonic StormModerate Tropical StormTropical Cyclone (Gale)Tropical Cyclone1
Tropical StormSevere Tropical StormSevere Cyclonic StormSevere Tropical StormTropical Cyclone (Storm)Tropical Cyclone2
Hurricane1TyphoonVery Severe Cyclonic StormTropical CycloneHurricaneSevere Tropical Cyclone3
Hurricane/Major Hurricane2–3TyphoonVery Severe Cyclonic StormIntense Tropical CycloneHurricaneSevere Tropical Cyclone4
Major Hurricane4–5Typhoon/ Super TyphoonSuper Cyclonic StormVery Intense Tropical CycloneHurricaneSevere Tropical Cyclone5
Source: Commonwealth of Australia, Bureau of Meteorology.

Information Please® Database, © 2007 Pearson Education, Inc. All rights reserved.

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