Tropical Storm Definition

by Laurent Cousineau

Climate Change is Responsible for an Increase in the Intensity and Frequency of Tropical Storms

Climate Change is Responsible for an Increase in the Intensity and Frequency of Tropical Storms

A tropical storm is a cyclonic storm which originates from the tropics and has sustained winds ranging between 39 and 73 miles/hour (34 to 63 knots; 63 to 117 kilometers per hour).

It is characterized by a low-pressure center and by several thunderstorms which create strong winds and heavy rain.

Tropical Cyclone

The term tropical cyclone is sometimes used interchangeably with tropical storm due to its cyclone, an area of closed, circular fluid motion rotating in the same direction as the Earth (counter-clockwise in the Northern Hemisphere and clockwise in the Southern Hemisphere).

However, a tropical cyclone includes a whole class of weather systems, namely tropical depressions, tropical storms, and even hurricanes.


Like a hurricane, a tropical storm is classified by a sustained wind speed. Notably, the wind speed for a tropical storm must range between 39 and 73 mph (63 to 118 km/h). Beyond this point, it is classified as a hurricane.


Also, a tropical storm may cause significant damage when it reaches land. Nevertheless, they play a vital role in nature as they distribute heat from lower latitudes near the equator to higher latitudes.


Beginning in 1953, all tropical storms were given names in order to facilitate communication. Instead of the logistical identification of a storm, a name would be much easier to say and understand over a radio.

Every year, the National Hurricane center decides a list of names to be used in advance. Since 1979, men and women's names were used in an alternating pattern. Prior to that, only women's names were used to name tropical storms.

Tropical Storms and Climate Change

Unfortunately, an increase in the intensity and frequency of tropical storms is but one of the many effects of climate change.

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