What’s the difference between a tornado, hurricane, typhoon and a cyclone?

How many different forms of violent wind can there be?

A tornado is an extremely powerful, whirling column of air. Tornadoes produce the fastest winds on earth (over 500km/h) and they can be over 1.5 km wide.

As they travel along in a unpredictable path of spinning destruction, tornadoes pick up dust and debris, so they’re visible as a funnel of swirling dust.  They can easily pick up cars and even mobile homes. Almost all tornadoes happen in the United States.

Hurricanes are the most violent storms on Earth, with high winds, torrential rain, thunder and lightning. Although tornadoes spin in faster speeds, hurricanes are bigger and more powerful.

They can measure as much as 500 km across.  They can sink ships, flatten buildings, smash vehicles and bring down power lines, causing a lethal hazard with driving rain.  They occur in tropical areas, close to the equator.

In the Eastern and Central Pacific they are known as Hurricanes, but in the Western Pacific they are known as Typhoons.

The word Cyclone is a word used to describe hurricanes, typhoons and tropical storms.