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Hurricanes 101

photo of a hurricane eye released June 30, 2017 | Gulfstream

Tropical Storm or Hurricane?

When most people hear “tropical storm”, they don’t hesitate grabbing an umbrella and heading out to work. But a tropical storm can do just as much damage as a hurricane. In fact, sometimes the damage is worse because people do not take precautions when they hear it is only a tropical storm.

Hurricanes, cyclones and typhoons are all tropical storms. The difference is the location where they appear.

Hurricanes form over the North Atlantic Ocean and Northeast Pacific.
Cyclones form over the South Pacific and Indian Ocean.
Typhoons are formed over the Northwest Pacific Ocean.
The difference between a tropical storm and a hurricane is the wind force. Up to 73 mph, it is considered a tropical storm. The minute the winds hit 74 mph, it is officially considered a hurricane.

Watches vs. Warnings

Tropical Storm Watch:
An announcement that tropical storm conditions (sustained winds of 39 to 73 mph) are possible within the specified coastal area within 48 hours.

Tropical Storm Warning:
An announcement that tropical storm conditions (sustained winds of 39 to 73 mph) are expected somewhere within the specified coastal area within 36 hours.

Hurricane Watch:
An announcement that hurricane conditions (sustained winds of 74 mph or higher) are possible within the specified coastal area. Because it is difficult to prepare for a hurricane once winds reach tropical storm force, the hurricane watch is issued 48 hours in advance of the anticipated onset of tropical-storm-force winds.

Hurricane Warning:
An announcement that hurricane conditions (sustained winds of 74 mph or higher) are expected somewhere within the specified coastal area. Because people need time to prepare and/or evacuate, the hurricane warning is issued 36 hours in advance of the anticipated onset of tropical-storm-force winds.

During a WATCH prepare your home and evacuation plan in case a warning is issued. Double check your supplies and batteries. During a WARNING, listen to the news and check online frequently, if it is advised to leave the area, start planning where you are going to go.

In the event of an Extreme Wind Warning/Advisory, meaning extreme sustained winds of 115 mph or greater are expected to begin within an hour, immediately take shelter in the interior portion of a well-built structure.

The local news stations will be tracking anything brewing, and you can always check online at www.weather.com/maps/severealerts.

Being prepared is the best thing you can be when storms head your way.

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