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4 Stages of a Hurricane and How You Can Prepare

June 1st is a date that strikes fear and apprehension for most insurance professionals. Hurricane Season begins on June 1st each year and runs until the end of November, however, hurricanes can form earlier than June 1st and continue into December depending on the temperature of the water and the conditions of the ocean. If conditions are “right,” a hurricane can develop at a rapid pace.

The process of hurricane development can vary depending on the following factors:

  • the sea surface temperature,
  • wind conditions, and the
  • associated light winds higher in the atmosphere that develop thunderstorms.

This process can form from a mild storm off the western coast of Africa or Central America to a full named hurricane in just a matter of days. Many of the Atlantic hurricanes form off the west coast of Africa. A counterclockwise rotation develops as the air within the circulation is pulled inward towards the center.

There are 4 stages of development to a Hurricane:

  1. The most common storms start out as a Tropical Wave with wind speeds of less than 25 mph.
  2. A Tropical Wave becomes a Tropical Depression when there is a presence of a closed circulation or rotation and sustained winds of 25 mph.
  3. The Tropical Depression becomes a Tropical Storm when rain and thunderstorm activity moves over the closed circulation and sustained winds reach at least 39 mph. At this stage, the system can cause damage. It is at this stage that the storm is given a name.
  4. The Tropical Storm becomes a Hurricane when the closed circulation becomes an eye and sustained winds reach at least 74 mph. This stage of a hurricane can cause significant damage. From here, Hurricanes are categorized based upon wind speed.

 Don’t wait until a storm becomes a hurricane to prepare - always take precautions! Review your emergency preparedness kit and stock up on non-perishable food, water, flashlights with batteries, and other vital emergency equipment. Also, stay up to date with your local and global weather with these weather alert apps. If you want to know how to help those devastated by storms, check out ways to volunteer, send supplies, and donate!