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Fire & Water - Cleanup & Restoration

Storm Terminology Explained 

7/8/2022 (Permalink)

storm clouds in a dark blue sky storm clouds in a dark blue sky with the SERVPRO logo in the center

Ever wonder how hurricanes get their names? Confused about which category of a hurricane is worse? Not sure if “watches” or “warnings” are more dangerous? We break it down for you so you can better understand the type of storm heading your way. 

What’s in a Name?

The practice of naming storms started in the 1950s. Initially, storms were only named for women, but men’s names began to be included in the late 1970s. The World Meteorological Organization has six alphabetical lists of 21 names that are repeated every six years for both the Atlantic Basin (east coast) and the Eastern North-Pacific Basin (west coast). The letters Q, U, X, Y and Z are not used in the alphabetical listing. Occasionally, a storm’s name can be retired if the storm was particularly deadly. Hurricane Katrina is one example of this – the name “Katrina” was retired from the list in 2005.

 Classifying Hurricanes

According to the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), there are five categories of hurricanes: 

  • Category 1: considered very dangerous and will produce some damage 
  • Category 2: considered extremely dangerous and will cause extensive damage
  • Category 3: devastating damage will occur 
  • Category 4: catastrophic damage will occur 
  • Category 5: catastrophic damage will occur including destruction of homes

 The categories are based on wind speeds but assume that winds for all categories could be life-threatening.

Watch vs. Warning

We’ve all been there – your meteorologist interrupts your favorite TV show with a breaking weather alert. But what exactly does it mean? Two of the most commonly confused terms are Watch and Warning. This terminology is used to describe tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, and winter storms. 

 A Watch means it is possible for the weather event to occur; a Warning means the event is happening or is about to happen. To sum it up:  

  • Watch – Stay informed, be alert.
  • Warning – Take shelter!

 To learn more about weather terminology or to see if your name appears on the alphabetical list of hurricane names, visit www.noaa.gov

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