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Temperate Cyclones, Formation, Map, Characteristics, Movements

Temperate Cyclones

A temperate cyclone is a specific type of storm that forms in the mid-latitudes. Although they differ in a number of ways, these storms are similar to tropical cyclones in several aspects. Temperate cyclone formation often takes place between October and April. They typically come from the Northern Hemisphere’s Gulf of Alaska or the waters off the coast of Japan. They frequently come from Argentina or the Tasman Sea in the Southern Hemisphere. The typical duration of a temperate cyclone is one week. While others can last up to two weeks, certain temperate cyclones can.

Low-pressure regions called temperate cyclones develop in the middle latitudes. Where the Jet Stream is greatest, between the 30th and 60th parallels, is where these cyclones often develop. Temperate cyclones can happen at any time of year, although the fall and winter are when they happen most frequently.

Temperate Cyclones are also referred to as Extra-tropical cyclones; the term “Extra-tropical” denotes the fact that this type of cyclone typically develops at latitudes between 30° and 60° outside of the tropics. The topic of temperate cyclones is discussed here. This is a significant section of the NCERT notes that is pertinent for IAS hopefuls. The UPSC aspirants would find this article quite helpful.

Read More: Anticyclones


Cyclones are local low-pressure systems with converging air from surrounding areas. The Coriolis Force deflects the cyclone and provides a whirling motion. Cyclones spiral motion is in a counter-clockwise direction in the Northern hemisphere and in a clockwise direction in the Southern hemisphere. The isobars (imaginary lines joining similar pressure gradients) are closely looped- near-circular or elliptical. Cyclones are broadly divided into two types:

Temperate Cyclones Phenomena

The temperate cyclone is one of the most important atmospheric phenomena affecting weather in the middle latitudes. They are also known as extra-tropical cyclones (beyond tropics) or mid-latitude cyclones or frontal cyclones.  They are low-pressure systems with associated cold fronts, warm fronts and occluded fronts. They are an integral part of the global air circulation involved in heat transfer thus maintaining the Heat Budget of Earth.

Also Read: Cyclone Biparjoy

Temperate Cyclones Formation

The formation of the temperate cyclone is explained by the Polar Front theory by Bjerkens and Bjerkens, which was propounded during World War 1.

Stage I Frontogenesis

Two air masses converge along the sub-polar low-pressure belt in the northern hemisphere. The cold air mass moves southward and the warm air mass moves northward and forms a boundary where the winds blow parallel but in opposite directions.

Stage II Cyclogenesis

The contrasting air masses start intruding into each other’s territory. The warm air mass intrudes into the area occupied by the cold air and the cold air mass intrudes into the warm air mass. This is how the wave formation begins and sets the stage for a full-fledged cyclonic circulation.

Stage III Mature Stage

After the circulation sets in, the waveforms. There is a greater intrusion and occupation of the air mass into each other’s territory. The warm air mass intrudes further, and the cold air mass moves towards the equator along the cold front boundary. This is the mature stage of cyclonic circulation.

Stage IV Occlusion Stage

The cold front having a greater speed of intrusion than the warm front intrudes into the warm sector. This results in the shrinkage of the warm sector and gradually the cold front overtakes the warm front. The two air masses eventually mix across the front. The occluded front is eliminated. Eventually, the cyclone dies out.

Temperate Cyclones Characteristics

  • The storm systems known as Extra-Tropical Cyclones form away from the tropics in the mid-to-high latitudes.
  • These low-pressure systems are accompanied by occluded, warm, and cold fronts.
  • These storms develop alongside the polar front.
  • The front remains motionless at first.
  • Mid-latitude storms and baroclinic storms are other names for extra-tropical cyclones.
  • Warm air blows from the south of the front and cold air from the north in the Northern Hemisphere.
  • An anticlockwise cyclonic circulation begins when the pressure decreases along the front, causing the warm air to flow north and the cold air to move south.
  • A well-constructed extratropical cyclone with a cold front and a warm front is produced by cyclonic circulation.
  • Between the chilly air in the front and the warm air in the back are squeezed pockets of warm air.
  • In advance of the warm front, a number of clouds form across the sky and start to rain as the warm air moves over the cold air.
  • The warm air is forced upward as the cold front approaches from behind.
  • Cumulus clouds consequently grow near the cold front.
  • The warm front eventually loses ground to the cold front as it advances more quickly.
  • The front is completely obscured, the warm air is completely lifted, and the cyclone evaporates.
  • They can come from both land and water, and they can cover a bigger region.

Temperate Cyclones Map

The temperate cyclones extend over the Sierra Nevada, Colorado region, and Great Lakes region of North America. Mediterranean, Russia, and even India (Western disturbances).

Temperate Cyclones Diagram

Temperate Cyclone Movement

Generally speaking, temperate cyclones are less organised than tropical cyclones. Usually, they travel from west to east across continents. They revolve around a centre of low pressure in the Northern Hemisphere in an anticlockwise direction, while in the Southern Hemisphere, they revolve in a clockwise direction. Although they can develop at any time of the year, temperate cyclones most frequently do so between September and May.

Temperate Cyclone Associated Weather

A temperate cyclone’s anticlockwise air movement can produce widespread showers and thunderstorms. These storms frequently bring with them wind gusts, torrential rain, and occasionally hail. Tornadoes can also be caused by temperate cyclones.

Strong winds are typically a temperate cyclone’s most dangerous feature. These systems’ related winds have the potential to harm buildings, trees, and electricity lines. Large waves can also be produced by temperate cyclones at coastlines. These waves may result in flooding and deterioration of the beach.

Strong winds, lots of rain or snow, and thunderstorms are just a few of the meteorological characteristics that temperate cyclones can bring. Tornadoes can sometimes develop from temperate cyclones. Sandy, a temperate cyclone that hit the northeastern United States in 2012, was the most destructive in recent memory. Contrary to their name, temperate cyclones can form in both tropical and temperate areas.

Differences between Temperate Cyclone & Tropical Cyclone

Tropical Cyclone Temperate Cyclone
Tropical cyclones go westward from eastward. These cyclones travel eastward from westward.
Comparatively speaking, a tropical storm affects a lesser region than a temperate cyclone. A substantially wider area is affected by temperate cyclones.
In a tropical cyclone, the wind is blowing significantly faster and more destructively. Air moves at a relatively slower speed.
Only in waters that are warmer than 26–27 degrees Celsius do tropical cyclones form, and they vanish once they land. Both on land and in the ocean, temperate cyclones can develop.
One tropical cyclone lasts no longer than seven days. A temperate cyclone can persist for between 15 and 20 days.

Tropical Cyclone  UPSC

When two opposing air masses, such as thin polar air masses and heavy tropical air masses, clash, temperate cyclones are created. Extra-tropical cyclones are another name for temperate cyclones. Extra-tropical describes cyclones that form in a latitude range of 30° to 60° and take place outside of the tropics. You will learn about Temperate Cyclones in this article, which will help you with your preparation for the UPSC Civil Service Exam in geography.

Other Indian Geography Topics

Seasons of India Mountains of India
Mangrove Forests in India Important Mountain Passes in India
Monsoon in India
Indus River System
Climate of India
Rivers of India
Tributaries of Ganga
National Parks in India
Important Dams in India
Wildlife Sanctuaries of India
Tiger Reserves in India
Northern Plains of India
Physiography of India
Important Lakes of India
Wetlands in India
Biodiversity in India
Natural Vegetation in India Earthquakes in India
Types of Soil in India
Ramsar Sites in India
Brahmaputra River System
Hydropower Plants in India
Nuclear Power Plants in India
Major Ports in India
Biosphere Reserves in India
Waterfalls in India

Other Fundamental Geography Topics

Solar System Types of Clouds
Structure of the Atmosphere Himalayan Ranges
Component of Environment
El Nino and La Nina
Coral Reef
Continental Drift Theory
Endogenic and Exogenic Forces
Indian Ocean Region
Pacific Ocean
Indian Ocean Dipole
Air Pollution
Environmental Impact Assessment
Tropical Cyclone
Western Disturbances
Types of Rocks

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What is cyclone differentiates between tropical and extratropical cyclones?

Extratropical cyclones are more widespread and can form over both land and water. Tropical cyclones, on the other hand, only form over the ocean and disintegrate once they land. Compared to a tropical storm, an extratropical cyclone affects a significantly wider area.

How are temperate cyclones formed?

When two opposing air masses, such as thin polar air masses and heavy tropical air masses, clash, temperate cyclones are created. Extra-tropical cyclones are another name for temperate cyclones.

Where do temperate cyclones occur in India?

In the winter, temperate cyclones travel from the Mediterranean Sea to India. In the months of December and January, bring rain to the Northern Plains and snow to the Mountains. For the cultivation of "rabi" crops, they are crucial.

Where do temperate cyclones come from?

Temperate cyclones frequently develop along fronts, which are the boundaries between regions of various air masses, and develop over colder ocean waters. The frontal borders, or transition zones between warm and cold air masses, are where temperate cyclones generally develop.

What are the two other names of temperate cyclones?

Wave cyclones, mid-latitude cyclones, and temperate cyclones are other names for extratropical storms. Middle latitude or extratropical cyclones are the names given to the systems that form in the mid- and high-latitude regions beyond the tropics.

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