The largest typhoon in history slammed into southern Asia in the Philippines today (2013).
It's so big.
They're calling it a "super typhoon."
Hey everyone, Trace here for DNews, answering a long-held question in a lot of people's minds: "What's the difference between a hurricane and a typhoon?"
We hear both words a lot.
They're both storms that get names.
The super typhoon hitting Asia right now (2013) is named Haiyan or Yolanda, by the way.
The main difference between a hurricane and a typhoon, believe it or not, is simply where the storm occurs.
According to NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), hurricanes form in the northern Atlantic, north eastern Pacific and South Pacific.
Typhoons form in the northwestern Pacific specifically.
There are also cyclones, I forgot all about them, which form in the southwest Pacific Ocean and the Indian Ocean.
Science likes naming things, and they're very thorough.
Basically there are three names for the same big spinning storms.
And one cool fact, the word hurricane comes from the name of one of the Mayan gods, Huracan, who helped create the world.
No big deal.
Other than location, is there anything unique about each type of storm?
All three storms share humble beginnings as tropical storms.
Each begin over warm oceans where there are high levels of air moisture and wind.
If the right conditions persist, then these spinning storms will grow.
And when they reach sustained internal wind speeds of 74 miles [119 kilometers] an hour, they can bring torrential rain, flooding and all the other hallmarks of a big storm like that.
The location of the typhoon, cyclone or hurricane determines the direction it spins.
Just being a typhoon doesn't mean it will spin in a specific direction.
Same with a hurricane, storms can spin either way.
All storms forming in the northern hemisphere spin counterclockwise, while those forming in the southern hemisphere spin clockwise, easy-peasy.
So what about this super storm thing?
We just had one in the U.S. last year (2012) with hurricane Sandy that became superstorm Sandy, and now Asia has a super too.
Are those the same thing?
Not at all.
I spoke with Dennis Feltgen at the National Hurricane Center, and in the U.S. the super storm moniker is completely made up by the media.
However, the super typhoon?
That's a real science thing.
It's a ranking that's done on that side of the world, and it means a sustained surface wind of at least 150 miles [241 kilometers] an hour, high-end is sustaining at 195 [314 kilometers per hour] with gusts up to 235 [378 km/h].
In the Atlantic where hurricanes live, they typically appear from June to November, and there are maybe a dozen a year.
But the Pacific typhoon, that can happen anywhere from May to December and there may be as many as 30 in a year.
We track storms around the world over at DiscoveryNews.com, so check out the storm tracker for more information.
And make sure you visit a disaster relief charity, because your help is going to be needed soon.