No matter what time of the year it is, staying up to date on storm terminology is never a bad idea. We’ve compiled this list of the most important hurricane terms from the National Hurricane Center that everyone should know in order to stay prepared year-round.
Bands are usually referred to as “feeder” or “spiral” bands, which sit outside of the eyewall that keeps the hurricane filled with force and continuously moving. These make up the largest part of the storm.
2. Barometric Pressure
Barometric Pressure is the pressure exerted by the weight of the atmosphere, which drops to extremely low levels at the ocean’s surface. This low pressure creates moist ocean air and causes thunderstorms to form around it.
A Cyclone is an atmospheric closed circulation rotating counter-clockwise in the Northern Hemisphere and clockwise in the Southern Hemisphere.
4. Direct Hit
A Direct Hit is classified as a close approach of a tropical cyclone to a geographic location. For location’s on the left-hand side of cyclone’s track, a direct hit occurs when the cyclone passes within a distance equal to the cyclone’s radius of maximum wind. For locations on the right-hand side of the track, a direct hit occurs when the cyclone passes to within a distance equal to twice the radius of maximum wind.
5. Evacuation Zone
An Evacuation Zone is the area in which a hurricane will likely have the most tremendous impact. Usually, the government and emergency management will make an announcement stating that residents of these zones must evacuate before a certain time before the storm hits. If they don’t emergency teams will not be able to rescue you if you are in danger until it’s safe enough to do so. These zones are often close to coastlines.
6. Eye of the Storm
The Eye of the Storm is the circular area of comparatively light winds that sit inside the center of a severe tropical cyclone. The eye is either completely or partially surrounded by the eyewall cloud.
7. Eye Wall
The Eye Wall is an organized band or ring of cumulonimbus clouds that surround the eye or high-wind center of a tropical cyclone.
A Hurricane is a tropical cyclone where the maximum sustained surface wind is 74 MPH or more. The term “hurricane” is used for Northern Hemisphere tropical cyclones east of the International Dateline to the Greenwich Meridian.
9. Hurricane Warning
A Hurricane Warning is an announcement that sustained winds of 74 MPH or higher are expected somewhere within the specified area of association with a tropical, subtropical, or post-tropical cyclone. The warning is usually issued 36 hours in advance of the anticipated onset. The warning can remain in effect when dangerously high water or a combination of dangerously high water and waves continue, even though winds may be less than hurricane force.
10. Hurricane Watch
A Hurricane Watch is an announcement that sustained winds of 74 MPH or higher are possible within the specified area in association with a tropical, subtropical or post-tropical cyclone. Because hurricane preparedness activities become difficult once winds reach tropical storm force, the hurricane watch is issued 48 hours in advance of the anticipated onset.
11. Indirect Hit
An Indirect Hit refers to the location that doesn’t experience a direct hit from a cyclone but does experience hurricane-force winds or tides of at least 4 feet above average.
Landfall refers to the intersection of the surface center of a tropical cyclone with a coastline. Because the strongest winds in a tropical cyclone aren’t located precisely at the center, it’s possible for the strongest winds to be experienced on land, even if landfall hasn’t happened yet. It’s also possible for a tropical cyclone to make landfall and have its strongest winds still remain over the water.
13. Major Hurricane
A Major Hurricane is one that is classified as Category 3 or higher.
- Category 1: 74-95 MPH
- Category 2: 96-110 MPH
- Category 3: 111-129 MPH
- Category 4: 130-156 MPH
- Category 5: 157 MPH or higher
14. Storm Surge
A Storm Surge is an abnormal rise in sea level accompanying a hurricane or other intense storm, and whose height is the difference between the observed level of the sea surface and the level that would’ve occurred on a normal day.
15. Tropical Storm
A Tropical Storm is a cyclone in which the maximum sustained surface wind speed ranges from 39 to 73 MPH.
A Typhoon is used for Pacific tropical cyclones north of the Equator west of the International Dateline.