What is a cyclone?


Strong winds, rain, and floods--they can all result from a cyclone!

A cyclone is a wind system that moves in a circular formation around an area of low pressure. A cyclone is no small event! These wind systems are large, sometimes spreading over hundreds or thousands of miles!

A cyclone forms when warm air rises, creating an area of low pressure. As the air rises, it becomes moist and condenses into storm clouds. Cooler air rushes in and the system begins to rotate. In fact, a cyclone rotates in the same direction that the Earth spins!

Strong winds result, and thunderstorms often occur. A cyclone can cause a rise in the water level called a storm surge. The calm center of a cyclone is known as the eye. Cyclones that form near the Equator, the imaginary line that runs around the middle of the Earth, are called tropical cyclones. These storms are smaller but often more powerful than other cyclones, causing severe damage at times!

Tropical cyclones are also known as hurricanes and typhoons. Luckily, a cyclone can usually be predicted in advance, giving people in its path time to evacuate to a safer area if need be.

by Brian Griffin (Whyzz writer)

Further Information

You've just learned that cyclones are wind systems that rotate around an area of low-pressure. If a wind system rotates around a high-pressure area instead of a low-pressure area, it's called an anticyclone! The winds of an anticyclone are typically not as strong as those of a cyclone, and they often do not create rain.