Cyclone is a large air mass that rotates around a strong center of low atmospheric pressure, counter clockwise in the Northern Hemisphere and clockwise in the Southern Hemisphere as viewed from above (opposite to an anticyclone). Cyclones are characterized by inward-spiraling winds that rotate about a zone of low pressure. The largest low-pressure systems are polar vortices and extratropical cyclones of the largest scale (the synoptic scale). Warm-core cyclones such as tropical cyclones and subtropical cyclones also lie within the synoptic scale.

Cyclones have also been seen on extra-terrestrial planets, such as Mars, Jupiter, and Neptune. Cyclogenesis is the process of cyclone formation and intensification. Extratropical cyclones begin as waves in large regions of enhanced mid-latitude temperature contrasts called baroclinic zones. These zones contract and form weather fronts as the cyclonic circulation closes and intensifies. Later in their life cycle, extratropical cyclones occlude as cold air masses undercut the warmer air and become cold core systems. A cyclone’s track is guided over the course of its 2-to-6-day life cycle by the steering flow of the subtropical jet stream.

Tropical cyclogenesis describes the process of development of tropical cyclones. Tropical cyclones form due to latent heat driven by significant thunderstorm activity, and are warm core. Cyclones can transition between extratropical, subtropical, and tropical phases. Mesocyclones form as warm core cyclones over land, and can lead to tornado formation. Waterspouts can also form from mesocyclones, but more often develop from environments of high instability and low vertical wind shear.

In the Atlantic and the northeaster Pacific oceans, a tropical cyclone is generally referred to as a hurricane (from the name of the ancient Central American deity of wind, Huracan), in the Indian and south Pacific oceans it is called a cyclone, and in the north western Pacific it is called a typhoon.


Henry Paddington published 40 papers dealing with tropical storms from Calcutta between 1836 and 1855 in The Journal of the Asiatic Society. He also coined the term cyclone, meaning the coil of a snake. In 1842, he published his landmark thesis, Laws of the Storms.

In this article, Pritish Kumar Halder defines the structure and formation of a Cyclone.


There are a number of structural characteristics common to all cyclones. A cyclone is a low-pressure area. A cyclone’s center (often known in a mature tropical cyclone as the eye), is the area of lowest atmospheric pressure in the region. Near the canter, the pressure gradient force (from the pressure in the canter of the cyclone compared to the pressure outside the cyclone) and the force from the Coriolis effect must be in an approximate balance, or the cyclone would collapse on itself as a result of the difference in pressure.

Because of the Coriolis effect, the wind flow around a large cyclone is counter clockwise in the Northern Hemisphere and clockwise in the Southern Hemisphere. In the Northern Hemisphere, the fastest winds relative to the surface of the Earth therefore occur on the eastern side of a northward-moving cyclone and on the northern side of a westward-moving one; the opposite occurs in the Southern Hemisphere. In contrast to low-pressure systems, the wind flow around high-pressure systems are clockwise (anticyclonic) in the northern hemisphere, and counter clockwise in the southern hemisphere.


Cyclogenesis is the development or strengthening of cyclonic circulation in the atmosphere. Cyclogenesis is an umbrella term for several different processes that all result in the development of some sort of cyclone. It can occur at various scales, from the microscale to the synoptic scale.

Extratropical cyclones begin as waves along weather fronts before occluding later in their life cycle as cold-core systems. However, some intense extratropical cyclones can become warm-core systems when a warm seclusion occurs.

Tropical cyclones form as a result of significant convective activity, and are warm core.  Mesocyclones form as warm core cyclones over land, and can lead to tornado formation. Waterspouts can also form from mesocyclones, but more often develop from environments of high instability and low vertical wind shear.  Cyclosis is the opposite of cyclogenesis, and is the high-pressure system equivalent, which deals with the formation of high-pressure areas—Anticyclogenesis.

A surface low can form in a variety of ways. Topography can create a surface low. Mesoscale convective systems can spawn surface lows that are initially warm-core. The disturbance can grow into a wave-like formation along the front and the low is positioned at the crest. Around the low, the flow becomes cyclonic. This rotational flow moves polar air towards the equator on the west side of the low, while warm air move towards the pole on the east side. A cold front appears on the west side, while a warm front forms on the east side.

Usually, the cold front moves at a quicker pace than the warm front and “catches up” with it due to the slow erosion of higher density air mass out ahead of the cyclone. In addition, the higher density air mass sweeping in behind the cyclone strengthens the higher pressure, denser cold air mass. The cold front over takes the warm front, and reduces the length of the warm front. At this point an occluded front form where the warm air mass is pushed upwards into a trough of warm air aloft, which is also known as a trowel.

Tropical cyclogenesis is the development and strengthening of a tropical cyclone. The mechanisms by which tropical cyclogenesis occurs are distinctly different from those that produce mid-latitude cyclones. Tropical cyclogenesis, the development of a warm-core cyclone, begins with significant convection in a favorable atmospheric environment. There are six main requirements for tropical cyclogenesis:

1)sufficiently warm sea surface temperatures,

2)atmospheric instability,

3)high humidity in the lower to middle levels of the troposphere

4)enough Coriolis force to develop a low-pressure canter

5)a pre-existing low-level focus or disturbance

6)low vertical wind shear


Cyclone look from above Earth

An average of 86 tropical cyclones of tropical storm intensity form annually worldwide, with 47 reaching hurricane/typhoon strength, and 20 becoming intense tropical cyclones.