Tropical cyclones are rapidly-rotating storm systems that rotate (counter-clockwise in the Northern Hemisphere and clockwise in the Southern Hemisphere) around a low pressure centre. They are generally slow moving but severe, with winds of between 120-320 kilometres an hour. They have different names depending on where they happen: cyclones in Southeast Asian waters and the Indian Ocean, typhoons in East Asian and Pacific waters and hurricanes in the Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico or Caribbean sea. Most cyclone-related deaths are from flooding, but also from electrocution, collapsed structures and blowing debris.


Do you know how to prepare for a cyclone?

It's important to know your area's risks related to cyclones, hurricanes or typhoons. Make an evacuation plan: know your shelter destination, evacuation route and mode of transport. Work with your community to identify and prepare local cyclone shelters and strategically store provisions of food and water. Store valuables high up and keep copies of any important documents.

Build and maintain your home with severe tropical storms in mind—install external storm shutters on windows and doors, secure and maintain roofs properly, minimizing overhangs, and elevate furnaces, water heaters and electric panels where possible. Keep trees and bushes well trimmed.

Make sure everyone in your home practises your evacuation plan and route. Monitor the weather closely and follow official advisories from authorities. A 'watch' generally means there is a threat of a cyclone within 36 hours, giving you some time to prepare, and a 'warning' means conditions are expected within 24 hours or fewer. Keep tools to protect your home and your vehicle fuel tanks full in case you need to evacuate. If you can't evacuate, shelter in place, brace all exterior doors and stay away from windows.

Do's and don'ts

Prepare an evacuation plan, route and mode of transport
Build and maintain your home with severe cyclones in mind
Don't assume if it's calm the danger has passed, you could be in the cyclone's eye
Work with your community to identify shelters and store provisions
Keep trees and bushes well trimmed
Keep your vehicle fuel tank filled in case of evacuation
Follow official advisories such as cyclone watches and warnings
Stay out of the way of damaged buildings and hazards
Give first aid where appropriate and safe to do so
Don't leave animals outside, take them with you or move them inside

Watch: how to prepare for a hurricane, cyclone or typhoon