There are a lot of weather terms being used lately, with Hurricane Ian expected to hit Florida as a Category 4 dangerous storm and Typhoon Noru in Vietnam, but you may have also seen words like tropical cyclone, storm tropical and more. So what do they all actually mean?
According to National Weather Service, hurricanes and typhoons are incredibly similar. In fact, they’re only separated by one thing: where they hit.
Both types of storms are considered tropical cyclones, which the Weather Service describes as an “umbrella term used by meteorologists to describe a rotating, organized system of clouds and thunderstorms that originates over tropical waters. or subtropical and has a closed circulation at low altitude”.
Cyclones, hurricanes and typhoons
The storms each have maximum sustained winds of 74 miles per hour or more.
Those that strike the North Atlantic, central North Pacific, or eastern North Pacific are considered hurricanes. In the Northwest Pacific, it is a typhoon and in the South Pacific or Indian Ocean, the tropical cyclone is most often used.
When a tropical cyclone sees maximum sustained winds between 39 miles per hour and 74 miles per hour, it is considered a tropical storm. Winds below are called tropical depressions. Typhoons with wind speeds of 150 miles per hour or more are called “super typhoons”.
In hurricanes, however, there is another set of rankings. They are known as categories on what is called a Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale.
Rankings vary between five categories, which are based entirely on wind speed and estimated damage. Only when hurricanes reach a Category 3 or higher, however, are they considered major storms in which significant damage and death is possible.
Here is a breakdown of each category of hurricane, according to the The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration:
Category 1: Winds of 74 to 95 mph
These storms have very dangerous winds, capable of producing damage. Well-built frame homes could have damage to the roof, shingles, vinyl siding, and gutters. Large tree branches break and trees with shallow roots can be knocked over. Extensive damage to power lines and poles will likely result in power outages lasting from a few days to several days.
Category 2: Winds of 96 to 110 mph
Extremely dangerous winds will cause considerable damage: well-built frame houses could suffer significant damage to the roof and siding. Many trees with shallow roots will be broken or uprooted and block many roads. Near total loss of power is expected with outages that could last from several days to several weeks.
Category 3: Winds of 111 to 129 mph
Devastating damage will occur: Well-constructed frame homes can suffer major damage or removal of roof decking and gables. Many trees will be snapped or uprooted, blocking many roads. Electricity and water will be unavailable for several days to several weeks after the storm has passed.
Category 4: Winds of 130 to 156 mph
Catastrophic Damage Will Occur: Well-built frame homes can sustain severe damage with the loss of most of the roof structure and/or some exterior walls. Most trees will be snapped or uprooted and utility poles knocked down. Fallen trees and utility poles will isolate residential areas. Power outages will last for weeks or even months. Most of the area will be uninhabitable for weeks or months.
Category 5: Winds of 157 mph or more
Catastrophic damage will occur: a high percentage of frame houses will be destroyed, with total roof failure and wall collapse. Fallen trees and utility poles will isolate residential areas. Power outages will last for weeks or even months. Most of the area will be uninhabitable for weeks or months.
These wind categories are different from tornado wind speeds, which are classified using what is called the Fujita Scale.
|F scale number||Intensity sentence||Wind speed||Type of damage caused|
|F0||Gale Tornado||40-72mph||Some damage to chimneys; breaks tree branches; grows on trees with shallow roots; damage traffic signs.|
|F1||moderate tornado||73-112mph||The lower boundary is the onset of the hurricane’s wind speed; peels the surface of the roofs; mobile homes pushed from foundations or overturned; moving cars pushed off the roads; attached garages can be destroyed.|
|F2||Significant tornado||113-157mph||Considerable damage. Roofs torn from frame houses; mobile homes demolished; boxcars overturned; large broken or uprooted trees; light object missiles generated.|
|F3||violent tornado||158-206mph||Roof and some walls torn from well-built houses; overturned trains; most of the trees in the forest are uprooted|
|F4||Devastating tornado||207-260mph||Well-built houses razed; structures with weak foundations blown some distance away; cars launched and big missiles generated.|
|F5||amazing tornado||261-318mph||Strong-framed houses lifted from the foundations and carried considerable distances to disintegrate; automobile-sized missiles fly through the air over 100 meters; debarked trees; severely damaged steel-reinforced concrete structures.|
Florida’s west coast braces for the impact of what is being called a “deadly storm” as Hurricane Ian upgraded to a dangerous Category 4 hurricane before making landfall on Wednesday.
With maximum sustained winds at 155 mph, 2 mph below a Category 5 hurricane, Ian is expected to bring devastating storm surge, catastrophic winds and flooding along the state’s heavily populated Gulf Coast, from Bonita Beach to the Tampa Bay area, the National Hurricane Center in Miami said in an 8 a.m. advisory Wednesday.
Winds exceeding tropical storm force 39 mph had already reached Florida by 3 a.m. Wednesday and hurricane-force winds were expected in Florida long before the storm’s eyewall moved inland. , said the Miami-based NHC Center.
Ian made landfall Tuesday as a Category 3 storm in Cuba, just southwest of the town of La Coloma in Pinar Del Rio province, causing the power grid to black out and leave the entire island without power.
A tropical storm warning was in effect for Indian Pass at the Anclote River, all of the Florida Keys, Flamingo at South Santee River, Flamingo at Chokoloskee, Lake Okeechobee, Florida Bay and for southeast Florida from south of Boca Raccoon.