Get Ready for Hurricane Season: Meteorological Terms You Should Know

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The Atlantic season kicked off early again and forecasters predict an above-average year of tropical activity. Get prepared by familiarizing yourself with these meteorological terms related to tropical weather and more tips.

Get Ready for a Busy Hurricane Season Arriving Early

While the official start for the Atlantic hurricane season is June 1 and it runs through November 30, once again, like the past few seasons, hurricane season kicked off early. The first subtropical storm of the year formed on May 22, named Anna, taking shape east of Bermuda in the Atlantic Ocean, according to AccuWeather.

Forecasters have predicted an above-average season for 2021 with 19 named storms, 8 hurricanes, four of which they expect to be major hurricanes of Category 3 or higher (115-plus-mph winds).

Tropical Weather-Related Meteorological Terms You Need To Know

We all hear meteorologist rattle off all kinds of terms during hurricane season. If these are unclear, don’t worry, we’ve got your back. Here are some of the most important meteorological terms for tropical weather you need to know. These are some of the more common terms meteorologists and forecasters use when referring to tropical weather, tropical systems, cyclones and hurricanes, as first reported by Click Orlando.

Warnings and Forecasts Terms

Cone of Uncertainty: Refers to the forecast track of any given storm. Forecasters predict a potential a “cone,” an expanded area outside the forecast track, to account for any error. It’s important to focus on the whole cone, not the center, as the storm could move anywhere within the cone. Additionally, the storm and impacts will likely be felt well outside the actual cone.

Tropical Advisory: Issued when a tropical depression develops, Advisories are issued at 5 AM and 11 AM, as well as 5 PM and 11 PM by the National Hurricane Center (NHC). However, intermediate advisories are issued at 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. when there are watches and warnings in effect.

Tropical Outlook: An area of disturbed weather that has a chance to develop into a tropical depression, storm or hurricane. Outlooks are issued by the National Hurricane Center (NHC).

Weather and Wind Terms

Millibar: A unit of pressure used in meteorology. A falling pressure will result in a stronger wind speed.

Rapid Intensification: An increase in maximum sustained winds by thirty-five mph or greater within a 24-hour period.

Storm Surge: Refers to rising water generated by a storm that is over and above the predicted amount of rise due to astronomical tides. The storm pushes the ocean water inland. Storm surge is the deadliest aspect of tropical systems.

Wind Shear: Refers to a change in wind speed or direction with height. Wind shear disrupts tropical development, meaning, it makes conditions less favorable for hurricane development.

Storm, Hurricane and Cyclone Terms

Eye: The area at the center of a hurricane. Unlike the outer walls, winds are relatively calm and skies mostly clear in the eye.

Eyewall: The area outside of the eye of a hurricane. The strongest winds of the storm occur in this area.

Landfall: A hurricane/cyclone is designated as making landfall when the center of the eye intersects with land.

Potential Tropical Cyclone: Refers to a disturbance that has strong potential to create tropical storm or hurricane conditions to land within 48 hours, but has not yet met all of the meteorological characteristics to become tropical. Under this designation, watches and warnings will be issued for the impacted areas.

Right Front Quadrant (aka the Dirty Side): This is considered the most dangerous part of a hurricane. The quadrant is relative to the motion of the storm and is always to the right of the center of motion. This quadrant contains the strongest winds and greatest tornado threat.

Subtropical Storm: Describes a hybrid system that is not fully tropical, but receives its energy from both differences in temperature and warm ocean water.

Tropical Cyclone: Refers to any tropical area of low pressure found anywhere on the planet. Relative to areas around the United States, they are referred to as tropical storms and hurricanes, but are called cyclones elsewhere. Tropical cyclones are not associated with warm or cold fronts. However, these storms become intensified through warm ocean waters and develop thunderstorms around their center of circulation.