Which one is true: "a category 0 tornado" or "an EF6 tropical cyclone"?
Go ahead, take your time to answer, but please do not use Google. I will have the answer after you scroll past this picture of a cow.
Lovely cow, eh? Alright, here's the answer:
Yes, both of these are incorrectly notated. How? In meteorology, it is vital that weather phenomenon have a unique system of categorization. Weather is comes in various forms, sizes, and strength. Tornadoes and tropical cyclones are not the same (although tornadoes can spawn in tropical cyclones if conditions are perfect). Tornadoes are swirling vortexes of hot and cold air. Normally, tornadoes are visible for their capability of picking up dust and debris gives this weather phenomenon a distinct shape. (Fun fact: a tornado itself usually is not lethal; it is the hundred-mile-per-hour debris that a tornado sucks in that's the deadly part). Winds near and in tornadoes varies in the low hundreds. Here's a picture of a tornado for your mental consumption:
So, now you know a little more about tornadoes, lets move on to tropical cyclones. First things first, lets talk about the name difference -- here in the States, we call these forces of nature "hurricanes" and in Asia they call them "typhoons". Cyclones exist because our planet has the ingredients to brew them up. Tropical cyclones needs warm water to survive; if one hovers over land or lukewarm water it will dissipate in a matter of hours or days. Sizes range from (if we were to utilize territories as area) a state to a country. Cyclone Tracy devastated with its world's smallest form factor for a tropical cyclone while Typhoon Tip flooded countries with its record size. Once again, here's a picture of this weather force in action, but instead of giving you one plain cyclone, I will spice things up and offer you THREE:
Nice, but which notation is correct?
Well, lets talk about the ways to measure tornadoes and tropical cyclones. For tornadoes, their wind speed and damage are classified with a ranking called the Enhanced Fujita scale. The scale has numbers that ranges from 0 to 5 -- the higher the rank the stronger the tornado. Tropical cyclones are described with the Saffir Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale. The "categories" range from 1 to 5, with the strongest being the highest number. (Fun fact: the names of tropical cyclones are given from a alphabetical predetermined list composed of generic names; the first cyclone that forms has a name that starts with an "A" while the 16th cyclone that forms starts with a "P"; you can check the names for this year's names here:)
Know your Names?
There is a threshold though; in order for cyclones to receive a number they must meet prerequisites. If cyclones have lower qualities, they are either classified as "tropical storms" or "tropical depressions". Once again, cyclones must surpass another threshold to receive these classifications. Weaker tropical cyclones are simply know as "lows".