In meteorology, a tropical cyclone (or tropical storm, typhoon or hurricane, depending on strength and location) is a type of low-pressure system which generally forms in the tropics. While some, particularly those that make landfall in populated areas, are regarded as highly destructive, tropical cyclones are an important part of the atmospheric circulation system, which moves heat from the equatorial region toward the higher latitudes.Structurally, a tropical cyclone is a large, rotating area of clouds, wind, and thunderstorm activity. The primary energy source of a tropical cyclone is the release of heat of condensation from water vapor condensing at high altitudes. Because of this, a tropical cyclone can be thought of as a giant vertical heat engine.














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The ingredients for a tropical cyclone include a pre-existing weather disturbance, warm tropical oceans, moisture, and relatively light winds aloft. If the right conditions persist long enough, they can combine to produce the violent winds, incredible waves, torrential rains, and floods associated with this phenomenon. This use of condensation as a driving force is the primary difference setting tropical cyclones apart from other meteorological phenomena, such as mid-latitude cyclones, which draw energy mostly from pre-existing temperature gradients in the atmosphere. To drive its heat engine, a tropical cyclone must stay over warm water, which provides the atmospheric moisture needed. The evaporation of this moisture is driven by the high winds and reduced atmospheric pressure present in the storm, resulting in a sustaining cycle.

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