First Alert Weather Academy: Tropical Terminology

First Alert Weather Academy: Tropical Terminology

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - We’ve all seen the impacts of what tropical systems can do on our area, from Hurricane Matthew to Irma. That’s why it’s always good to understand what kind of impacts could affect our area.

Hurricane season lasts for six months from June 1 until Nov. 30. During that time there will be many days you’ll hear us use terms that you may not understand or are familiar with.

Let's start with the hazards we could potentially see from any storm. They are damaging winds, isolated tornadoes and especially storm surge. Damaging winds and tornadoes are easy to understand, so let's focus on storm surge.

Storm surge is the rise of water above a normal high tide. This is the amount of water that could flood your home.

Storm surge is the number one reason to evacuate to a safer location.

A hurricane doesn't just start out as a hurricane, it has to go through many stages.

The first is a tropical wave, then a tropical disturbance.

Next is an Invest. This is when data collection begins.

A tropical depression has winds less than 39mph.

The system gets a name once it becomes a tropical storm.

Finally, when winds reach at least 74 mph, it is classified as a hurricane. Hurricane strength is based on the Saffir-Simpson Scale which rates hurricanes from category 1 to category 5.

The National Hurricane Center began issuing advisories for Potential Tropical Cyclones in 2017. It's a system that is not yet tropical but poses a threat of tropical storm or hurricane conditions to land within 48hrs.

This allows the National Hurricane Center to begin issuing a forecast track and watches and warnings. Do you know the difference between a watch and a warning?

A Hurricane Watch is issued if Hurricane Conditions are POSSIBLE in the warned area within 48hrs. At this time, hurricane preparations should be near completion and you should be ready to take action is necessary.

A Hurricane Warning is issued if hurricane conditions are EXPECTED in the next 36hrs. All preparations should be completed, and you should be ready to evacuate if necessary.

These are most of the terms you will hear the First Alert Weather Team talking about throughout hurricane season. Hopefully we do not have to deal with any tropical activity this year, but it’s always important to be prepared and informed.

Copyright 2020 WTOC. All rights reserved.