Blog – Catastrophe Response, Disaster Preparedness

Tropical Depressions, Tropical Storms & Hurricanes, What are the Differences?

While summer storms bring significant amounts of rain and wind to the areas they affect, these storms are not all the same. By understanding the difference between the various types of tropical activity, you can better prepare your business and focus on recovery.

Types of Tropical Weather Events

  • Tropical depression: The first stage of a tropical weather event is called a tropical depression. Meteorologists sometimes refer to these formations as a tropical wave, disturbance, feature, system or disturbance. Tropical depressions are cyclones with winds that gust at 38 miles per hour (33 knots) or less. While cyclones aren’t as strong as tropical storms or hurricanes, they can bring significant amounts of rain, thunderstorms and devastating floods.
  • Tropical storm: Meteorologists upgrade a tropical depression to a tropical storm when the cyclone’s circulation is more organized and has sustained wind speeds of 39 to 73 miles per hour (34 to 63 knots). Tropical storms produce large amounts of rain, and can cause enough wind and wave activity to damage boats and erode beaches. When a weather event qualifies as a tropical storm, meteorologists categorize it according to the Saffir-Simpson Scale.
  • Hurricane: When a storm system has sustained winds of over 74 miles per hour (64 knots), a spiral arrangement of thunderstorms with low-pressure center, it is considered a hurricane, or a typhoon. Meteorologists generally use the term “hurricane” for storms in Atlantic Ocean and the word “typhoon” for those in the Pacific Ocean. Hurricanes are the most dangerous and devastating type of tropical system. The earth’s rotation causes hurricanes to accelerate toward the poles if a current doesn’t steer them, a force known as the Coriolis effect. Like tropical storms, meteorologists use the Saffir-Simpson Scale of 1 to 5 to classify hurricanes. When Hurricane Katrina hit the U.S. states in the Gulf of Mexico in 2005, it was a Category 3 storm. Hurricane Sandy in 2012 hit the northeastern part of the U.S. as a Category 2 storm.

Classifying Storm Activity

In North America, the U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC) issues advisories like hurricane warnings and wind watches. The agency also upgrades and downgrades storms type based on the formation of the activity and wind speeds. To gather information about tropical systems, the NHC issues reconnaissance aircraft missions into storms to determine data such as wind speeds, which help classify the storm. It also uses vessels, equipment on islands and buoys to gather data.

Hurricane Damage Recovery

When a business suffers any type of loss due to a tropical event, it’s vital for it to get up and running as soon as possible. Polygon has revolutionized the way businesses recover from disasters with our desiccant equipment that can dry a building without the need to deconstruct it. In an effort to quickly restore business continuity, Polygon’s hurricane damage recovery services benefit businesses from a time and cost savings standpoint.

With hurricane season here, give yourself peace of mind by registering with Polygon’s Code Blue program. Code Blue helps fast-track your disaster recovery efforts by giving you priority service and immediately sending a team when disaster strikes. Contact Polygon today to learn more about the program and preparing your business for this season’s storms.

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