You probably knew that all Hurricanes are considered Tropical Storms. But did you know that not all Tropical Storms are considered Hurricanes?

To meet the definition of a “hurricane”, a storm has to meet certain conditions. The most common is the Saffir-Simpson scale which measures wind speeds. The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale is a 1 to 5 rating based on a hurricane’s sustained wind speed. This scale estimates potential property damage. Hurricanes reaching Category 3 and higher are considered major hurricanes because of their potential for significant loss of life and damage. Category 1 and 2 storms are still dangerous, however, and require preventative measures. In the western North Pacific, the term “super typhoon” is used for tropical cyclones with sustained winds exceeding 150 mph.

Category Sustained Winds
1 74-95 mph or 64-82 kt or 119-153 km/h

Very dangerous winds will produce some damage: Well-constructed frame homes could have damage to roof, shingles, vinyl siding and gutters. Large branches of trees will snap and shallowly rooted trees may be toppled. Extensive damage to power lines and poles likely will result in power outages that could last a few to several days.

2 96-110 mph or 83-95 kt or 154-177 km/h

Extremely dangerous winds will cause extensive damage: Well-constructed frame homes could sustain major roof and siding damage. Many shallowly rooted trees will be snapped or uprooted and block numerous roads. Near-total power loss is expected with outages that could last from several days to weeks.

3 (major) 111-129 mph or 96-112 kt or 178-208 km/h

Devastating damage will occur: Well-built framed homes may incur major damage or removal of roof decking and gable ends. Many trees will be snapped or uprooted, blocking numerous roads. Electricity and water will be unavailable for several days to weeks after the storm passes.

4 (major) 130-156 mph or 113-136 kt or 209-251 km/h

Catastrophic damage will occur: Well-built framed homes can sustain severe damage with loss of most of the roof structure and/or some exterior walls. Most trees will be snapped or uprooted and power poles downed. Fallen trees and power poles will isolate residential areas. Power outages will last weeks to possibly months. Most of the area will be uninhabitable for weeks or months.

5 (major) 157 mph or higher or 137 kt or higher or 252 km/h or higher

Catastrophic damage will occur: A high percentage of framed homes will be destroyed, with total roof failure and wall collapse. Fallen trees and power poles will isolate residential areas. Power outages will last for weeks to possibly months. Most of the area will be uninhabitable for weeks or months.

Tropical Storm Names
Since 1953, Atlantic tropical storms had been named from lists originated by the National Hurricane Center. They are now maintained and updated through a strict procedure by an international committee of the World Meteorological Organization.

The six lists above are used in rotation and re-cycled every six years, i.e., the 2016 list will be used again in 2022. The only time that there is a change in the list is if a storm is so deadly or costly that the future use of its name on a different storm would be inappropriate for reasons of sensitivity. If that occurs, then at an annual meeting by the WMO committee (called primarily to discuss many other issues) the offending name is stricken from the list and another name is selected to replace it. Several names have been retired since the lists were created. Here is more information the history of naming tropical cyclones and retired names.

If a storm forms in the off-season, it will take the next name in the list based on the current calendar date. For example, if a tropical cyclone formed on December 28th, it would take the name from the previous season’s list of names. If a storm formed in February, it would be named from the subsequent season’s list of names.

In the event that more than twenty-one named tropical cyclones occur in the Atlantic basin in a season, additional storms will take names from the Greek alphabet.

Here are the names for any storms that will occur in 2016:


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Derrick Johnson

Derrick Johnson


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