We see that you have javascript disabled. Please enable javascript and refresh the page to continue reading local news. If you feel you have received this message in error, please contact the customer support team at 1-833-248-7801.

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

WeatherTalk: Hurricanes begin as a complex of thunderstorms

When tropical storms become better organized, the system intensifies.

ISS hurrican isabel
Hurricane Isabel photographed from the International Space Station.
Credit: NASA
We are part of The Trust Project.

FARGO — Tropical depressions, tropical storms and hurricanes all get their start as a complex of thunderstorms originating in the tropics, sometimes as far away as the coast of Africa). These "tropical waves" are often the precursor to further development. A tropical depression is a tropical wave that develops a center of low pressure, poorly organized and with winds of less than 40 mph. When the tropical depression intensifies beyond a sustained 39 mph wind, it is named a "tropical storm" and given a name — which will be discussed in tomorrow's piece.

When tropical storms become better organized, the system intensifies. Once the sustained winds reach 74 mph, the storm is upgraded to a hurricane. There are five categories of hurricane, with category 3, 4 and 5 being considered a "major hurricane." Category 5 hurricanes need winds of at least 157 mph, and some, like Hurricane Patricia in 2015, can reach sustained winds upwards of 215 mph.

Related Topics: WEATHER
What to read next
Nature's beauty from a weather perspective
The two main factors of these changes are warming oceans and warming air in the polar region.
A wind report is measured by an anemometer at a location free of obstructions at 10 meters (about 33 feet) above the ground.
It is estimated from tree ring data that this may be the worst drought in this region is 1,200 years.