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What’s the difference between a hurricane and a tropical storm?

Knowing the difference between a tropical storm and a hurricane can help you better prepare for the potential damage to your home while also knowing when it’s adequate to evacuate. 

What is a Tropical Storm?

A tropical storm is a tropical cyclone with a maximum speed ranging from 39mph to 73mph. Heavy rainfall and high winds from tropical storms are known to cause significant property damage. A tropical cyclone is a term often used to describe a low-pressure system that often develops over tropical waters and are widely known for following circular patterns. If a low-pressure system sustains winds of 38mph or less, it is categorized as a tropical depression. However, if the wind speeds exceed the 73mph of a tropical storm, it is upgraded to a hurricane.

What is a Hurricane?

Hurricanes are tropical cyclones with maximum winds of 74mph or more. A hurricane is an intense tropical weather system that is classified from Category 1 to 5 based on its wind speed. This system allows for hurricanes to further be graded in terms of their potential to cause property damage. On average, six hurricanes effect the United States per year. Within those six hurricanes, three typically have the chance to be classified as major hurricanes. Major hurricanes have the potential to cause devastating wind damage and loss of life due to the strength of the wind.

Regardless of category, hurricanes are detrimental and are life-threatening. Hurricanes can produce deadly storm surges, flash flooding, and tornados. Hurricanes and tropical storms account for 30% of catastrophic property loss.

So, what is the difference?

Although tropical storms and hurricanes both are dangerous, they have distinct differences within the damage each can cause and the plans of action you should take. The main difference between the two is their intensity.

  • Tropical Depressions sustain wind speeds of 38mph or less
  • Tropical Storms sustain wind speeds ranging between 39mph to 73mph
  • Hurricanes sustain wind speeds of 74mph or higher.

As always, the storm’s intensity affects the potential for damage to property. Ensuring the knowledge of the differences between tropical storms and hurricanes will help give a better idea of potential damage and protection you can take.

Despite the differences between tropical storms and hurricanes, they are both dangerous types of storms that could lead to damage to your property and potential harm to your family. Take time to create a plan so you will be prepared before a tropical storm or hurricane is headed your way. This plan should include details about evacuating and supplies to stockpile in the event of a storm.

Before you or your family experience damage from a tropical storm or hurricane, Storm Smart is ready to respond. Our experts have served since 1996 and have gained the experience to understand and provide tropical storm and hurricane damage prevention services to homeowners across the country!

"We purchased our Storm Smart hurricane screens last year for peace of mind during hurricane season. Little did we know that we would use them almost every day all year round! They not only offer protection in the event of powerful storms but they provide daily shade in the late afternoon sun as well as rain protection during afternoon showers, allowing us to use our lanai as an integrated outdoor living space. We love them and everyone who sees them, wants them."
-Dennis G.