In meteorology, a tropical cyclone is a storm system with a closed
circulation around a center of low pressure, fueled by the heat
released when moist air rises and condenses. The name underscores
their origin in the tropics and their cyclonic nature (circulation
that is counterclockwise in the Northern Hemisphere and clockwise in
the Southern). They are distinguished from other cyclonic storms such
as nor'easters and polar lows by the heat mechanism that fuels them,
which makes them "warm core" storm systems.
Depending on their strength and location, there are various terms by
which tropical cyclones are known, such as tropical depression,
tropical storm, hurricane and typhoon.
Tropical cyclones can produce extremely high winds, tornadoes and
torrential rain (leading to mudslides and flash floods), and drive
storm surge onto coastal areas. Though the effects on populations can
be catastrophic, tropical cyclones have also been known to relieve
drought conditions, since they transport enormous amounts of moisture.
They carry heat away from the tropics, an important mechanism of the
global atmospheric circulation that maintains equilibrium in the
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