Hurricanes vs. Typhoons

  • Hurricane vs Typhoon - Hurricane Issac 2012 / Typhoon Soudelor 2015

Hurricanes vs. Typhoons

Hurricanes and typhoons are the same kind of storm that use different terms based on their geographic location.

  • Hurricanes- Occur in the Atlantic and Northeast Pacific
  • Typhoons- Occur in the Northwest Pacific
  • The American Red Cross provides disaster relief and assistance for both hurricanes and typhoons. While we’re most known for responding to hurricanes, typhoons impact U.S. territories in the Pacific including the Northern Mariana Islands and Guam.

    Read more about the response to Typhoon Soudelor, which struck Saipan in the Northern Mariana Islands on August 2, 2015.

    Map of where hurricanes, typhoons, and cyclones form. They are all the same type of storm, but are named differently depending on where they form.

    Hurricane and Typhoon Characteristics

    These large area storm systems:

  • Develop over warm tropical oceanic waters
  • Have a spiral or circular system of strong winds rotating around an eye, sometimes hundreds of miles across in diameter
  • Are strong enough to inflict severe damage
  • Hurricanes and typhoons begin to lose their strength once they hit land. Without the warm waters of the ocean to fuel them, they eventually decrease in both speed and size until they dissipate.


    Typhoons and hurricanes typically form between June and November, although they can occasionally occur outside of these months.


    These storms are defined by incredibly strong winds that can blow anywhere upwards from 74 mph. Hurricanes are first known as tropical storms with wind speeds that can range anywhere from 39-73 mph.


    Hurricanes and typhoons are both measured according to the Saffir-Simpson scale, which categorizes them by numbers. Category 1 has the lowest wind speeds, while Category 5 has the highest wind speeds and is considered the most powerful and dangerous. Category 4 or 5 hurricanes are the equivalent of a super-typhoon.

    Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale

    Hurricane vs. Typhoon Differences

    Geographic Locations

    Hurricane is the term used for tropical cyclones that occur in the Northern Hemisphere running from the Greenwich Meridian all the way to the International Date Line. Typhoons refer to tropical cyclones that occur in the Pacific, north of the equator running west of the International Date Line.

    If a storm forms in one place and crosses over the International Date Line, it will change names. For instance, in 2014 Hurricane Genevieve formed in the eastern Pacific but became Super Typhoon Genevieve as it moved west and crossed the International Date Line.


    Typhoons can be stronger and occur more frequently than hurricanes, because of the warmer Pacific ocean waters which facilitate favorable conditions for creating storms. Although typhoons have stronger wind intensities than hurricanes, they comparatively cause less damage simply due to their geographic location.

    Recovery in Typhoon Soudelor

    Donate to Disaster Relief

    Help people affected by disasters like Typhoon Soudelor and countless other crises at home and around the world by making a gift to American Red Cross Disaster Relief. Your gift enables the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from disasters big and small.