Eye on the Tropics

Tropical Storm versus Category 1 Hurricane: What’s the difference?

ORLANDO, Fla. — Tropical Storm Elsa continues to track toward Florida’s west coast. The storm could strengthen into a hurricane before it makes landfall.

But what’s the difference between a hurricane and a tropical storm?

First off, they are both tropical cyclones or a storm system that has generated over the warm tropical water.

Read: What do they mean? Disturbance, depressions, tropical, subtropical storms, hurricanes

The difference between the two categories is the strength of the wind, or how strong the low pressure is, which drives the wind.

A storm is categorized as a tropical storm if its winds are between 39 and 72 mph. A tropical storm is upgraded to a category 1 hurricane once its winds reach 74 mph.

Elsa live updates: Storm bringing tropical storm-force winds, heavy rainfall to Florida Keys

The maximum winds for a category 1 hurricane is 95 mph. After a storm reaches 95 mph it would be upgraded to a category 2 hurricane.

Katlyn Brieskorn, WFTV.com

Katlyn Brieskorn is a Digital Assignment Editor at WFTV. She joined Channel 9 in July 2019.