Cyclone: Formation, Types, Naming [UPSC Geography Notes]

By K Balaji|Updated : June 27th, 2022

A Cyclone is a meteorological effect in which a large wind system circulates at a center of low atmospheric pressure in an anti-clockwise direction in the northern hemisphere and a clockwise direction in the southern hemisphere. Cyclones can be marked by sighing winds moving towards the inverse side of a low-pressure zone.

Cyclones are part of physical geography and many questions are asked on this topic in the UPSC Exam. candidates preparing for the UPSC Exam must go through this article to gather in-depth information on Cyclones and level up their preparation.

Table of Content

What is a Cyclone?

Cyclones are strong winds or storms caused by the winds blowing around an area of low atmospheric pressure.

  • In the area above the equator, which is the Northern hemisphere, it is called a Cyclone and rotates in an anticlockwise direction, whereas in the Southern hemisphere it is called a hurricane or typhoon and rotates in a clockwise direction.
  • The main characteristic of Cyclones is that they move in a spiraling movement in an inward direction.
  • Tropical Cyclones form over warm water in the tropical region of the ocean where hot air is heated by the sun, creating areas of very low pressure.
  • Due to this, the air rises at a very high speed and gets saturated with the moisture that later forms the thunderclouds.

Cyclone Formation

Cyclogenesis has a major role to play in the formation and strengthening of Cyclones.

  • Near the equator, tropical Cyclones form over warm ocean water.
  • As a result, the humidified warm air near the ocean surface starts to rise upwards. This is followed by the formation of low pressure near the surface.
  • The low-pressure areas get surrounded by the cooler air from nearby areas, and this cool air also becomes warm, moist, and starts to rise upwards.
  • This complete cycle keeps on continuing for a period of time.
  • Later, when this warm moist air rises upwards, it cools down the water in the air, thereby forming the clouds.
  • During this whole process of spinning and growing, the wind and cloud interact with each other, and all of this results in a Cyclone.
  • If the speed of winds touches the speed of 63mph, they are called tropical Cyclones, and if the wind reaches the speed of 119 kmph, they are called hurricanes.

Types of Cyclones?

The types of Cyclones are as follows:

Tropical Cyclones:

Tropical Cyclones occur in the region of the tropical ocean. There are two types of tropical Cyclones: hurricanes and typhoons. The Northeast Pacific and Atlantic regions experience hurricanes, whereas the Northwest Pacifica experiences typhoons.

Extratropical Cyclones:

These Cyclones are formed in the middle latitudes, hence also called extratropical or mid-latitude Cyclones. The winds in the extratropical zone are relatively weaker. However, the temperature drops quite sharply.

Polar Cyclones:

It occurs in the northern hemisphere and is also called the Arctic hurricane. In this, the heat transforms the water into air and releases the latent heat, which further creates clouds. These types of Cyclones are difficult to predict as they take less than 24 hours to form.


MesoCyclones are the most severe and powerful types of Cyclones that produce thunderstorms. In the convective storm, the mesoCyclone appears as a vortex. This vortex rotates along the vertical axis. In the given hemisphere, both this airflow and the low-pressure system are pointing the same way. And this mesoCyclone comes into formation by rotating air inside the thunderstorm.

Naming of Cyclones

The nomenclature of the Cyclones is maintained by the World Meteorological Organisation. Earlier, the organization created a list that had names only of women, but later, after 1979, men's names were also included in the list. The women's and men's names are used alternatively. There are a total of 6 lists in total and they are used in rotation, which means if the list has been used in 2022, then the same list will be used in 2028.

Cyclones in India

India is surrounded by water bodies on all three sides, and all the water bodies act as a hotspot for Cyclones.

  • Some states, like Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Odisha, and West Bengal, are more prone to Cyclones.
  • Since these Cyclones are accompanied by plentiful rain and high-speed winds, they become more deadly.
  • Strom surges, strong winds, and torrential rains cause immense destruction to the surroundings.

Cyclones UPSC

The topic of Cyclones is the most important part of Physical Geography. The aspirants preparing for the UPSC Exam must have an in-depth understanding of this topic. That’s why we have covered the Cyclones in detail formate which would help you to have an effective preparation for the upcoming UPSC Exam. Candidates can also take the help of NCERT Books for UPSC to strengthen their basic foundation and also the side books of Geography UPSC books to gather more information on Cyclones. You can also avail the UPSC Study Material and UPSC Previous Year Question Paper to boost your learning.

Cyclone UPSC Notes PDF

The Cyclone UPSC notes would make the UPSC exam preparation easier for the candidates, and they would be able to make notes easily with the printout version of the notes PDF. that’s why we have provided a direct link to download the Cyclone UPSC Notes PDF below.

>> Download Cyclone UPSC Notes PDF

Cyclones UPSC Prelims Sample Question

Question.1) Consider the following statements-

  1. Cyclones are distinguished by a low-pressure center.
  2. The northern hemisphere has anticlockwise wind flow while the Southern hemisphere has clockwise wind flow.
  3. It's a storm system with a heated Core

Choose the correct answer

A) 1 only

B) 2 and 3

C) 1 and 2

D) All of the above

Answer- Option D

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FAQs on Cyclone

  • A Cyclone is a strong wind or storm caused by the winds bellowing around an area of low atmospheric pressure.

  • In India, the Indian Meteorological Department issues warnings about Cyclones and other meteorological disturbances. In addition, India has Area Cyclone Warning Centres in Kolkata, Chennai, and Mumbai, as well as Cyclone Warning Centres in Visakhapatnam, Ahmedabad, and Bhubaneswar.

  • Altogether, India has faced 9 intense and strong Cyclones, of which the Bhola Cyclone that occurred in 1970 was the deadliest one, and the Odisha Cyclone that occurred in 1999 was the strongest Cyclone in India.

  • Cyclones mostly affect the coastline of India. The east coast is more prone to Cyclones compared to the west coast. The states which have been most affected by the Cyclones are Odisha and West Bengal Andhra Pradesh Tamilnadu Kerala Maharashtra and Gujarat.

  • When strong storms are developed in the regions of the North Atlantic, Central, and North Pacific, they are called hurricanes, whereas when these strong rotating winds are formed in the Indian Ocean and South Pacific Ocean, they are called Cyclones.

  • The types of cyclones include Tropical Cyclones, Extratropical Cyclones, Polar Cyclones, and MesoCyclones.

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