AAA Tropical Storm Guide

Hurricanes are a type of tropical cyclone, a storm formed by a low pressure system in the tropics with organized convection (thunderstorm activity). Since there are different types of tropical cyclones, AAA has developed a tropical storm guide with descriptions of the storms and information about the differences between a storm watch versus a storm warning. And don't forget…before hurricane season kicks into gear, review your insurance coverage with your AAA Insurance Agent to make sure you're protected.

Storm Types

Tropical Disturbance: The earliest stage of a tropical cyclone, a tropical disturbance is a weather system with lower pressure and that measures at least 100 nmi (nautical miles) to 300 nmi in diameter. It has clear, organized thunderstorms (i.e. convection), develops in the tropics or subtropics, lasts more than 24 hours and differs from a typical front. Wind speeds are usually 30 mph or less.

Tropical Depression: When a group of thunderstorms converges and creates a stronger, more organized weather system. Tropical depressions carry maximum sustained wind speeds of 38 mph.

Tropical Storm: A tropical storm is characterized by sustained winds of 39 to 73 mph, greater organization and convection in the center and actual rain bands outside the center of the storm.

Hurricane: A hurricane is a very intense and potentially dangerous tropical storm. It's intensity is measured on the Saffir-Simpson Scale using wind speeds and the numbers one to five. The Saffir-Simpson scale provides an idea of the potential damage or threat of damage at each storm level.

Storm/Hurricane Watch vs. Warning

AAA recommends knowing the difference.

Watch: A tropical storm or hurricane watch means that there is the threat of tropical storm or hurricane conditions within 24 to 36 hours.

Warning: A tropical storm or hurricane warning means that tropical storm or hurricane conditions are expected within 24 hours.