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Understanding the Hazards of Tropical Weather

Tropical storms vary in power and duration, but they all pose a serious safety hazard. It’s essential to know the dangers associated with tropical weather in order to be prepared and keep your family safe under any conditions.

The least destructive type of tropical weather is called a tropical depression. A depression is defined as a large, organized group of thunderstorms with a low-pressure center capable of producing strong winds less than 39 mph. With a tropical depression, heavy rains and strong winds can cause minor flooding and property damage. A tropical depression is not large enough to cause widespread devastation, but is still dangerous and should be taken very seriously.

If a tropical depression increases in power and becomes more organized, it is classified as a tropical storm. This means that its winds have increased to between 39 and 74 mph. At this stage, the storm begins to look more circular, although it does not usually have an eye. A tropical storm is much stronger than a tropical depression, and the associated hazards are much greater. Increased rainfall can cause more widespread flooding, and powerful winds can take down larger structures. During a tropical storm, emergency preparedness is crucial, as power could go out and leave you “in the dark.” It’s important to plan ahead and know what you should do in the event of tropical storm. An NOAA weather alert radio is essential since it can notify you of any impending danger and keep you up-to-date on developing weather conditions.

Storms that have wind speeds exceeding 74 mph are classified as hurricanes. Hurricanes are the most dangerous and destructive type of tropical weather, potentially resulting in massive flooding, days-long power outages, and extensive wind damage. Hurricanes are the most devastating of all tropical storms, so emergency preparedness is of the utmost importance. Understanding hurricane safety and being prepared can not only help you minimize the risk of damage to your home or belongings, but it can save your life.

For more information on hurricane preparedness, visit www.ready.gov/hurricanes