A remarkable thing has occurred regarding cyclones. For the first time in modern history, north Atlantic hurricanes were recorded as being stronger than south Pacific typhoons.
What’s the Difference Hurricanes and Typhoons?
Strictly speaking, cyclones, hurricanes, and typhoons are all synonyms for the same thing. The difference stems from the location of the three systems. All of them are intense low-pressure systems, but hurricanes form in the North Atlantic, while typhoons form in the South Pacific Ocean. In the curious case of Hurricane Genevieve, this hurricane formed in the Atlantic and traveled all the way to the Pacific, where it crossed the international dateline and suddenly became Super Typhoon Genevieve.
Which is Stronger?
Generally, typhoons are traditionally stronger than hurricanes, but that dynamic has shifted with last year’s batch of tropical cyclones. Typhoons are usually stronger because of the warmer temperatures of the Pacific Ocean, but this too is changing because of climate change and the heavy reliance of man on fossil fuels.
The trend of hurricanes being on average stronger than typhoons isn’t expected to be a fluke of 2017 and is expected to continue for some years to come. As greenhouse gases continue to rise in concentration in our atmosphere so will hurricanes continue to gain in strength.
Coastal regions like Florida and many small islands like Dominica, the British and US Virgin Islands were devastated by hurricanes Irma and Maria, and many of these regions are still trying to pick up the pieces from these natural disasters.
What can be done?
The question of how to combat climate change is a big, many-layered question; and there is no single, magical answer that will make everything okay. We have spent a long time developing our infrastructure around the fossil fuel industry. However, what is agreed upon is that something to needs to happen. Suggestions, like cutting down on your energy consumption and switching to solar energy or other renewable energy sources, is important, but so is making sure that you are adequately prepared for the hurricane regardless of how strong it is.