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  • 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?

  • Not really.

  • 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].

  • Holy crap!

  • 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, 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.

  • Thanks lot for watching DNews today.

The largest typhoon in history slammed into southern Asia in the Philippines today (2013).

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