In general terms, a cyclone is a large spinning weather system. Generally called tropical cyclones, these phenomena can be formed by seemingly benign weather such as thunderstorms. This is especially true for those who live in the tropics.

The formation of a cyclone begins with what is labeled a “tropical disturbance.” This can be caused by a number of factors, but is generally spurred by a group of thunderstorms over warm tropical water. The low pressure from these storms draws low-level winds into it, which evaporates sea water inside. This process brings energy into the system and creates more clouds and rain. This in turn draws in more warm moist air, increasing the size and strength of the cyclone.

The cyclone’s spinning occurs due to the rotation of the Earth. Much like the spin on a ball, the Earth moving below the system’s winds cause it to curve and ultimately spin. This is called the Coriolis effect. Cyclones are called hurricanes in the Atlantic and eastern Pacific, typhoons in Southeast Asia and cyclones in the Indian Ocean and western Pacific around Australia. Regardless of their name, they are a powerful and deadly weather phenomenon. Preparation is key for getting through a cyclone. Plan ahead to make it out relatively unscathed.

Emergency Prep

Your emergency kit should include a serious flashlight, such as a SureFire G2X Pro (, an emergency weather radio like the Midland ER200 (, blankets, water, non-perishable food, first-aid supplies, batteries, dry clothes and any medications needed. Also include basic hand tools as well as a serious knife capable of cutting debris. Pack everything in a waterproof bag like the SealLine Boundary Pack (

Fortify your home, especially if you plan on sheltering in place. Regularly check the condition of your property’s roof and fit windows with shutters or metal screens.

Have an evacuation plan and discuss it with your family. Make sure everyone is prepared to get to a rendezvous point on their own if you happen to get separated. Before unsafe conditions force you to leave, ensure your vehicle is in good working order. If you receive a warning for your area, charge your mobile battery and fill up the car with gas.

Stay In Contact

Make sure you are set up to receive local alerts and warnings. If your county receives a cyclone warning, move your vehicle under cover and secure any outdoor furniture and other items while it is still safe to do so. Fill buckets, sinks and baths with water in case the water supply becomes restricted. Gather everyone indoors, including any pets, then stay away from doors, windows and exterior walls. Turn off all electricity, gas and water, and unplug all appliances to minimize hazards that might be caused by high winds.

Listen to your portable radio for updates and remain indoors until advised. If an official evacuation order is issued, leave immediately and seek shelter elsewhere. If you have been evacuated, don’t return to your property until authorities confirm it is safe to do so. Don’t use electrical appliances that have been wet, and stay away from damaged power lines, fallen trees and flood waters. Drinking water may also be contaminated, so confirm whether the community’s water supply is safe to drink.

While a spectacular sight to see from afar, a cyclone can be one of the most dangerous phenomena on the planet. By being prepared and staying calm, you have a greater chance of avoiding disaster and tragedy.

This article was originally published in the SURVIVOR’S EDGE™Fall 2015 edition. Subscription is available in print and digital editions here.

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