Hurricane, tropical storm and tropical depression: What’s the difference?

Published: Thursday, May 24, 2018 @ 3:56 PM

What's The Difference Between A Tropical Storm And A Tropical Depression?

There are a ton of weather terms that might be easy to confuse including hurricanes, tropical depressions and tropical storms. Here’s the difference.

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Tropical depressions form when a low-pressure area is accompanied by thunderstorms that produce maximum winds below 39 mph. 

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As for tropical storms, those are more severe. Depressions become storms when winds reach between 39 and 73 mph. They also must follow a cyclone pattern to become a storm.

Hurricanes are a step up from a tropical storm, with winds of more than 74 mph. Hurricanes are further rated into five categories based on their wind speed:

Category 1: 74-95 mph

Category 2: 96-110 mph

Category 3: 111-129 mph

Category 4: 130-156 mph

Category 5: above 157 mph

Trees bend in the tropical storm wind along North Fort Lauderdale Beach Boulevard in 2017 (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)(Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
However, all three types of storms are fueled by warm, moist air near oceans in tropical areas.

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