Typhoons and Hurricanes

What is the difference between a typhoon and a hurricane?

Hurricanes and typhoons are essentially the same thing. They are just different names for what meteorologists call a ‘tropical cyclone‘. The difference is that we use ‘hurricane‘ if the storm is in the Atlantic and ‘typhoon‘ if it is in the Pacific or other parts of Asia.

Typhoon‘ is an interesting word because it is one of the words English has borrowed from another language. One of the most common explanations of its etymology is that it came from the Cantonese ‘tai fung‘ meaning a great wind. We rarely have typhoons here in Bali but I know they are common in other parts of Asia and I was sad to see the damage caused by the recent typhoon mentioned in this article on the Reuters website.

The first interesting word was in the article’s title:

China’s east coast battered by typhoon

We can use ‘battered‘ to talk about when severe or unusual weather causes damage to a place. We also use it when someone causes a lot of physical damage to another person by hitting him or her.

There is some interesting vocabulary in the third paragraph:

Up the coast, Shanghai was on “high alert” and dozens of cargo ships in the area delayed or canceled voyages. China’s National Meteorological Center said “violent rainstorms” could strike swathes of eastern China on Sunday and into Monday.

Voyage‘ is a nice, formal word for a trip or journey and ‘swathes’ means ‘large areas’. There was example of ‘swathes‘ used in a slightly different way in this post I wrote a while ago about YouTube.

Another interesting phrase comes in the next paragraph where the author describes the city Wenzhou as a ‘manufacturing hub‘. We use the word ‘hub‘ to talk about a centre for a certain activity. We could say London and New York are economic hubs, Paris is a cultural hub or Bali is a tourist hub.

It is mentioned later in the article that the river was ‘swollen‘. By this, the author means that there was more water in it than there usually is. When there is too much water in a river and it starts to spill over the edges, we can say the river has ‘burst its banks‘.

The last word I would like to look at is in the penultimate paragraph:

Many flights across the region were canceled. At least one cargo ship was beached by the winds and waves.

When we say a ship is ‘beached‘ we mean that is is driven onto dry land. It is more common to see the term ‘run aground‘ in this situation, though. We can also use the word ‘beached‘ when talking about whales or dolphins swimming too close to the shore and getting stuck on a beach.

The weather in Bali (where I live) is fairly stable for most of the year but we do get the odd storm now and then. Do you have any extreme or dangerous weather in your country?