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WEATHER

What are the 4 types of tropical storms?

A low pressure system in the Central Atlantic has brought up the chances of a December tropical cyclone. What are the different types of tropical storms?

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How are hurricanes formed?
NOAAvia REUTERS

Different weather disturbances go by different names which can be at times confusing. These events are named depending on their strength, and also on the area in which they are found.

The word “hurricane” is often used when referring to storms, and it is actually a type of tropical cyclone, which is the broader term to refer to these weather systems, so-called because they originate over the planet’s tropical oceans.

However, not all weather disturbances fall under this category. Here are other classes of tropical storms.

Tropical storm categories

The weakest classification among tropical storms is called a tropical disturbance. This is a common phenomenon in the tropics, composed of a moving area of thunderstorms that maintains its identity for 24 hours or more.

A bit stronger are tropical depressions, which are organized systems of clouds and thunderstorms with a defined circulation, carrying maximum sustained winds of up to 38 miles per hour.

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Tropical storms are also an organized weather system with strong thunderstorms and a defined circulation, bringing winds of 39 to 73 mph. It is at this minimum strength that the weather event is given a name.

For a storm to be named, its maximum sustained winds must reach a minimum of 39 mph.

The strongest storms

Hurricanes are the most severe among tropical weather systems, bearing maximum sustained winds of 74 mph or higher.

Hurricanes can be large, fierce and deadly, and they go by different names depending on where they form. Tropical cyclones created in the Atlantic or Eastern Pacific Oceans are called hurricanes, while in the western Pacific, they are known as typhoons. Those formed in the South Pacific and Indian Oceans are called cyclones.

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