Tropical Cyclone Nine: What is a tropical cyclone? Tropical cyclone & hurricane difference

Potential Tropical Cyclone Nine is currently developing in the Atlantic Ocean. The brewing weather system is posing a new threat to the northwestern Bahamas that was hit hard by Hurricane Dorian earlier this month. The tropical disturbance is moving northwestward and could make landfall in the US state of Florida this weekend.

Maximum sustained winds are currently at 30mph with higher gusts, but the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has warned strengthening is forecast over the next 48 hours.

The agency added Potential Tropical Cyclone Nine could become a tropical depression or a tropical storm on Friday or Saturday.

Heavy rainfall and strong winds are some of the impacts the cyclone is expected to bring.

Interests along the east coast of Florida should monitor the progress of this system as additional watches and warnings may be required for portions of this area later today.

READ MORE: Hurricane WARNING: Florida to be hit by cyclone STRONGER than Dorian

What is a tropical cyclone and how is it different from a hurricane?

A tropical cyclone is the term for a rapidly rotating storm system.

It is characterised by a low-pressure centre, a closed low-level atmospheric circulation, strong winds and a spiralling arraignment of thunderstorms that produce heavy rain.

Tropical cyclone is a broad term, and its meaning depends on its location and strength.

READ MORE: Hurricane tracker: Dangerous storm to SLAM into US

The weather system is referred to by different names including hurricane, typhoon, tropical storm, cyclonic storm, tropical depression or simply cyclone.

That means a hurricane is a type of tropical cyclone.

Tropical Cyclone Nine, currently heading for Florida could develop into a hurricane due to its location in the Atlantic.

If it was churning through the northwestern Pacific Ocean its name would be typhoon.

Tropical cyclones rotate counterclockwise in the Northern Hemisphere.

NOAA classifies different tropical cyclones as follows:

  • Tropical Depression: A tropical cyclone with maximum sustained winds of 38 mph (33 knots) or less.
  • Tropical Storm: A tropical cyclone with maximum sustained winds of 39 to 73 mph (34 to 63 knots).
  • Hurricane: A tropical cyclone with maximum sustained winds of 74 mph (64 knots) or higher. In the western North Pacific, hurricanes are called typhoons; similar storms in the Indian Ocean and South Pacific Ocean are called cyclones.
  • Major Hurricane: A tropical cyclone with maximum sustained winds of 111 mph (96 knots) or higher, corresponding to a Category 3, 4 or 5 on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale.

Tropical cyclones forming between 5 and 40 degrees North latitude typically move toward the west, according to NOAA.

However, sometimes the winds in the middle and upper levels of the atmosphere change and steer the cyclone toward the north and northwest.

When tropical cyclones reach latitudes near 30 degrees North, they often move northeast.

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