A cyclone is another word for "tornado" or other types of violent, spinning storms. It was a cyclone that uprooted Dorothy in "The Wizard of Oz," and her little dog Toto too.

In the midwestern part of the United States, a cyclone is a tornado. But ask a meteorologist and he'll tell you that technically a cyclone is a rapidly rotating storm that forms over a warm ocean, specifically in the South Pacific. Tropical cyclones are actually much bigger than tornadoes: a small cyclone could be 100 miles across, while a monster tornado would only be about a mile across.

Definitions of cyclone
  1. noun
    (meteorology) rapid inward circulation of air masses about a low pressure center; circling counterclockwise in the northern hemisphere and clockwise in the southern
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    (meteorology) winds spiraling outward from a high pressure center; circling clockwise in the northern hemisphere and counterclockwise in the southern
    type of:
    atmosphere, atmospheric state
    the weather or climate at some place
  2. noun
    a violent rotating windstorm
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    a severe tropical cyclone usually with heavy rains and winds moving a 73-136 knots (12 on the Beaufort scale)
    tornado, twister
    a localized and violently destructive windstorm occurring over land characterized by a funnel-shaped cloud extending toward the ground
    a tropical cyclone occurring in the western Pacific or Indian oceans
    the most powerful tornado which can create enormously devastating damage
    a tornado passing over water and picking up a column of water and mist
    type of:
    a storm consisting of violent winds
Commonly confused words

Stormy Weather: A Tempest of Meteorological Terms

Given how much our day-to-day lives are influenced by weather, it's not surprising we have a rich vocabulary for storms.

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