Here’s the criteria for tropical storms, hurricanes

A breakdown of what determines a system’s designation

A hurricane blows in on a Florida beach. (Image by David Mark from Pixabay.)

ORLANDO, Fla. – From when a tropical disturbance becomes a tropical storm to a hurricane, there are different criteria forecasters use to determine a storm’s designation.

Any storm system in the tropics is called a tropical cyclone, but there are different categorizations of tropical cyclones based on wind speeds.

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Any low pressure system on earth is a cyclone. A low pressure system in the tropics is a tropical cyclone. Each ocean basin refers to the tropical cyclone as something different.

A tropical depression becomes a tropical storm and receives a name when it reaches wind speeds at least 39 mph.

From there, if it gains strength and increases in wind speed, it becomes a hurricane.

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Here is what determines each category for a hurricane:

  • Category 1 - 74 to 95 mph sustained winds
  • Category 2 - 96 to 110 mph sustained winds
  • Category 3 - 111 to 129 mph sustained winds
  • Category 4 - 130 to 156 mph sustained winds
  • Category 5 - 157 mph or higher sustained winds

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A hurricane is considered a major hurricane at Category 3 and higher.

Hurricane season runs from June 1 through Nov. 30.

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About the Author:

Brenda Argueta is a digital journalist who joined in March 2021. She graduated from UCF and returned to Central Florida after working in Colorado.