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What is The Difference Between a Tropical Storm and Hurricane?

What is a tropical storm? Often the precursor to a hurricane, tropical storms can cause widespread damage. Learn how a tropical storm becomes a hurricane.

Not sure the difference between a tropical storm and a hurricane? Both are storms that have the potential to cause catastrophic damage and interrupt daily life in coastal regions - but they differ in strength and form. It’s important to understand the difference between these storms in order to be adequately prepared.

Dive in to find out how a tropical storm is different from a hurricane, the stages leading up to the hurricane and the speeds with which all of these storms move.

If you have experienced damage to your property as the result of a hurricane or tropical storm and need emergency restoration or repair services.

What is A Tropical Storm?
A tropical storm is a storm system that forms over tropical oceans and is often the precursor to a hurricane. This localized and intense low-pressure wind system may have hurricane or near-hurricane strength and will begin to develop a hurricane-like circular shape. Once a tropical storm develops, it is given a name.

What is a Hurricane?

A hurricane is a very intense tropical weather system that rotates in a large circular formation. A category 1 storm has lower wind speeds, while a category 5 hurricane has the highest wind speeds. Wind speed and category designation are important because they help individuals, families and communities weigh the risk of an impending storm. However, it’s important to note that category 1 or 2 storms can be just as dangerous or damaging as category 4 or 5 storms. For example, a category 1 or 2 storm may still cause a large storm surge and dump a colossal amount of rain in a given area.

While stronger than a tropical storm, hurricanes have several other distinguishing factors, including:

  • Eye of the Hurricane

Hurricanes develop “eyes.” The eye of the hurricane is directly in the center and can be between 20 to 40 miles across. This area is normally quite calm and clear, as the storm rotates around the eye.

  • Hurricane Eye Wall

The eye wall is what surrounds the eye of the hurricane and is where the most dangerous winds and heaviest rains can be found. The eye wall can be up to 30 miles wide. The eye wall of the hurricane is the most intense area of the storm and occurs directly after the eye passes over an area.

  • Hurricane Rain Bands

Rain bands are the clouds that form in a spiral around the eye wall. This is what gives the hurricane its notable pinwheel appearance. Rain bands are also the largest part of a hurricane and can be up to 300 miles long, spinning slowly counterclockwise.

When Does A Tropical Storm Become A Hurricane?

A tropical storm becomes a hurricane when it reaches a sustained wind speed of 74 miles per hour or more. Wind speed is the most obvious separation between a hurricane and a tropical storm.

The Stages of a Tropical Storm

If a hurricane is a tropical storm, what comes before both of them? Here are the different stages of a hurricane and how they differ from each other:

  1. Tropical Disturbance

A tropical disturbance is the first stage towards the development of a hurricane. Winds are less than 23 miles per hour. A tropical disturbance consists of thunderstorms with minimal wind circulation.

  1. Tropical Depression

After a tropical disturbance surpasses 23 miles per hour, it becomes a tropical depression. A tropical depression forms when a low-pressure area has multiple thunderstorms that create circular wind flow. Maximum sustained winds can reach up to 39 miles per hour.

  1. Tropical Storm

After a tropical depression comes a tropical storm. These storms have winds between 39 and 73 miles per hour and begin to look like a hurricane with a circular shape. Most damage from tropical storms comes from heavy rainfall which can cause property damage or severe flooding.

  1. Hurricane

After the development of a tropical disturbance, tropical depression and tropical storm comes a hurricane, once winds reach 74 miles per hour.

Water Damage Restoration & Reconstruction with Rainbow Restoration

If you have experienced flooding or damage to your property or business due to a tropical storm or hurricane, Rainbow Restoration is here to help. Our team offers emergency water damage restoration and reconstruction services after tropical storms, hurricanes and other natural disasters. Call or request an appointment online to get started.

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Call us at (855) 724-6269
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