Tropical Cyclones

Tropical Cyclones What, Where, When

And Actions To Take

Today’s Article talks about Tropical Cyclones and will offer some advice on how to cope if threatened by one. In this article we will discuss the following topics:

What Is A Tropical Cyclone?

Where And When Do Tropical Cyclones Happen?

What Are The Effects Of A Tropical Cyclone?

Actions To Take If A Tropical Cyclone Is On Its Way

What To Do If You Live In A Tropical Cyclone Prone Area?

What Is A Tropical Cyclone?

Tropical cyclones are also called typhoons and hurricanes which are regionally specific names for a Severe Tropical Cyclone. They are a rotating, organized system of clouds and thunderstorms that normally happen at predictable times of the year in specific parts of the world. They form over tropical or subtropical waters and feed on the heat that is released when moist air rises.

The severity of a Tropical Cyclone is categorized by wind speed and their strength is categorized on a scale of between 1 to 5. The wind speed of a category 1 Cyclone being over 64 knots (74mph).

Wind speeds of less than 34 knots (39mph) are called Tropical Depressions.

Wind Speeds of more than 34 knots is called Tropical Storms and are given a name for example here’s a  List Of Names For The 2018 Hurricane Season.

Depending on where in the world Cyclones occur if the wind speed exceeds 64 knots (74mph) they are called either a hurricane, typhoon, severe tropical cyclone, severe cyclonic storm or tropical cyclone.

A Tropical Cyclone with maximum sustained wind speeds of 96 knots (111mph) or higher, corresponding to a Category 3, 4 or 5 on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale. Is considered to be a Major Hurricane.

Where And When Do Tropical Cyclones Happen?

Because Tropical Cyclones form over tropical or subtropical waters and feed on the heat that is released when moist air rises. Hurricane Season normally begins at the time at which an area of the ocean temperature is at its warmest.

Hurricane Seasons

There are two main hurricane seasons:

  1. Northern Hemisphere Tropics (Caribbean, Atlantic, South East Asia, Pacific, Far East) from June to November.
  2. Southern Hemisphere Tropics (East Africa coast) from November to April.

What Are The Effects Of A Tropical Cyclone?

Tropical Cyclones can lose their strength as they travel over land so the margin of error in the forecast of the path of a tropical storm can be significant. Even just a day before the storm arrives the forecast can have a margin of error of up to fifty miles. Tropical cyclones can also be unpredictable because they can change directions with little warning and they can often veer off-course, change their tracking speed and intensify or weaken quite suddenly.

Tropical cyclones can cause significant damage and disrupt a country’s infrastructure. They cause heavy rainfall, storm surges, and high winds.

Heavy Rainfall

Extreme levels of rainfall can occur that would cause either localized or widespread flooding and mudslides.

Storm Surges

Tropical Cyclones can result in a temporary rise in sea level. The sea level can rise as much as several meters which can flood coastal areas and damage buildings on the shoreline

High Winds

High Winds can also occur which often leads to buildings being damaged or destroyed. Power lines, phone lines, and trees can be toppled. Flying debris will turn into dangerous projectiles.


Recovering from such significant damage can take considerable time. For example, it may take a while before airports can re-open. There may also be serious shortages of accommodation, food, water, health and medical facilities. Emergency services may struggle to cope depending on the severity of the Cyclone.

Actions To Take If A Tropical Cyclone Is On Its Way

Tropical Cyclones are a naturally occurring weather phenomenon so they cannot be prevented. However, you can still take steps to protect yourself and your loved ones.

It is often difficult to accurately predict the strength of the storm along with where and when a tropical cyclone will strike. It is therefore advisable to check and follow any advice given by local emergency services. Make sure you check your local Radio, TV, and News for updated alerts.

Be aware that information can change rapidly, so you should always continue to check the local media for updated advice. In some cases, you may be asked to evacuate the immediate area if a storm is heading your way.

It’s a good idea to have a radio that’s not solely reliant upon electricity, such as, a battery and or a hand crank radio. This will enable you to continue to check for news updates on the situation if the power goes down.

If you have not been told to evacuate and you consider your home to be a safe place to stay, for example, you have a storm shelter. Stay indoors before and during the cyclone to ensure your personal safety. Power cables may have fallen onto the streets putting you at risk if you venture outside. Flying and falling debris will also be a factor that can cause injuries and casualties if you venture out.

If in doubt of your homes ability to keep you safe, you should evacuate and head to your pre-designated evacuation or safety center.

What To Do If You Live In A Tropical Cyclone Prone Area?

If you live in an area that is prone to suffering from storms during the tropical cyclone season you should take the following actions:

Take steps to make sure your home is sturdy enough to endure extreme winds and possible flash floods. For example:

Extreme Winds

Remove any dead trees and fallen branches and anything else from outside your property that could become damaging if the debris is picked up by high winds and blown into your house with extreme force.

If your property is not fitted with storm shutters cut and prepare some plywood window boards to the proper dimensions of your properties windows. If a storm warning is issued boarding up your windows will help to protect your house from excess damage.

Flash Floods

If you have a basement take steps to waterproof it and consider installing a sump pump with back up, batteries.

Stockpile some emergency building materials and tools such as plastic sheeting, plywood, lumber nails, hammer, saw and a pry bar.

Make sure you have adequate shovels and sandbags and keep your properties gutters and drains free of debris.

Other Items To Consider

Store enough food and drinking water for you and any family members. As mentioned earlier Tropical Cyclones can cause torrential rains and destructive winds that may damage local infrastructure. If your local food stores can’t resupply or you can’t reach them you need enough food and water to get you through.

Make sure you have adequate first aid supplies and personal medications in case you can’t leave your home.

Ensure you have suitable clothing to combat any heavy rain and wind that the storm will bring. You may also need to evacuate so make sure you have suitable jackets and other rain gear.

Have an evacuation kit packed and ready to grab and go at a moments notice. Your evacuation kit should include items such as food, water, clothing, flashlight, extra medications, and a first aid kit. Also a battery and or a hand crank weather radio. This will enable you to continue to check for news updates on the situation if the power goes down.

If you live in an area that is prone to Tropical Cyclones consider keeping enough fuel in your vehicle so that you don’t have to wait to fill up before evacuating.

If you or other family members have any special medical needs, make a plan for what you would do to ensure their safety.

Also, consider making provision for the safety of any pets or animals if you have them.

Recommended Reading

Emergency Preparedness For The Three T’s

After Disaster Hygiene And Sanitation Tips

Disaster Supplies First Time Preppers Should Prepare

Prepper Bits Prepper Resources Section

Tropical Cyclone Climatology

How to Prepare Your Home for Natural Disasters

FEMA – How To Prepare For A Flood

List Of Names For The 2018 Hurricane Season


Top Prepper Sites

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