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Hurricane Hut

Tropical Terminology

Tropical Terminology
Active Storms
About Hurricanes
About Us
Atlantic Basin Storm Archives
East Pacific Storm Archives
Hurricane Naming
Retired Hurricane Names
Here are some of the terms that many people ask about:

Advisory - Official information issued by tropical cyclone warning centers describing all tropical cyclone watches and warnings in effect along with details concerning tropical cyclone locations, intensity and movement, and precautions that should be taken.

Anemometer - A device used to measure wind speed.

Barometer - A device used to determine air pressure of the atmosphere.

Cape Verde Storm - A tropical cyclone or storm that originates near the Cape Verde Islands in the Atlantic. Cape Verde storms are generally longlasting and usually quite strong. Hurricane Ivan of 2004 was a classic example of a Cape Verde Storm.

Center of Circulation - The center of the storm, also called the eye in hurricanes.

Convection - The heavy thunderstorms and high cloud tops associated with a tropical system.

Cyclones - Another name for a hurricane, primarily used in the Indian and South Pacific Oceans

Extratropical - A term used to describe a formerly tropical storm or hurricane that has lost its tropical characteristics. Extratropical storms can still be powerful, but no longer possess a warm core and other tropical characteristics.

Eye - The center of a hurricane, usually not found in tropical storms. The eye is usually calm and sometimes cloudless.

Eyewall - The most powerful part of the storm that surrounds the eye. The highest winds, heaviest rains, and strongest storms are found here.

Hurricane - A tropical cyclone with winds greater than 73 mph. This name is used in the Atlantic and East Pacific Basins.

Hurricane Season The time when most hurricanes form, lasting from June 1 to November 30 in the Atlantic Basin, and May 15 to November 30 in the East Pacific Basin. Keep in mind that many storms form out of these boundaries.

Hurricane Watch - An announcement stating that hurricane force conditions are possible within 36 hours in the watch area.

Hurricane Warning - An announcement stating that hurricane conditions are expected in the warning area within 24 hours or less.

Low - A low is an area of low pressure. It may be found anywhere, but only has the potential to gain tropical characteristics if it is over water.

Maximum Sustained Winds - The maximum sustained winds in the tropical system, used to determine the strength of the storm.

Subtropical A storm that lacks tropical characteristics such as a warm core. Subtropical take names from the same list as tropical storms since 2002.

Storm Surge - A rise in sea that occurs before the storm nears the coast or makes landfall. Stronger storms produce stronger storm surge.

Tropical Cyclone - The general name for a storm that has a warm core, a closed eye, and winds greater than 73 mph. Synonymous with the words Hurricane, Cylone and Typhoon.

Tropical Depression - a system with tropical characteristics with winds less than 39 mph.

Tropical Disturbance - An area of convection orginating in the tropics. Has the potential to develop into a tropical depression.

Tropical Storm - A storm with tropical characteristics that has not reached hurricane strength with winds between 39 and 73 mph.

Tropical Wave - A system of convection, stronger waves may become more organized and develop into Tropical Depressions.