CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) — Hurricane Lee has been downgraded to a post-tropical storm. And with that classification, some people might wonder what that means. The 22News Storm Team is Working for You with a look at the difference between a hurricane and a tropical storm.

You’ve probably heard a lot of different terms for the storm that’s been riding the East Coast this pas week. So, let’s take a look at the different types of storms you can have. First, you have a tropical depression, which you can think of as a cluster of thunderstorms moving together. They will have sustained winds of less than 38 miles-per-hour.

If a depression gets larger and picks up higher circulation speeds, it then becomes a tropical storm. You’ll see that a lot of the time in classifications when it comes to these storms that have very high winds.

Next, the strongest form of a tropical storm is the hurricane. Hurricanes must have strong circulation with sustained wind speeds of over 74 miles-per-hour. But, not all hurricanes are created equal. That’s where the Saffir Simpson scale comes in.

This scale puts hurricanes in categories based on sustained wind speed and damage. Category one is the lowest of five, and it is known for having wind speeds between 74 and 95 miles-per-hour. Category two causes more damage with wind speeds from 96 to 110 miles-per-hour. Category three continues the upward trend with wind speeds clocking in at 111 to 129 miles-per-hour. This can have a devastating damage, and this was what hurricane Idalia was rated when it hit Florida last month.

It is no surprise that the last two categories are the most damaging. In a category four most buildings are heavily damaged by wind speeds reaching anywhere from 130 to 156 miles-per-hour. And the worst of them all, category five, which we don’t see often brings wind speeds over 157 miles-per-hour. It is important to note that these descriptions don’t even touch on the other conditions that can be seen during a hurricane, like tornados, flooding, and high waves on the coast.

Tropical storm Lee currently sits off the coast of New England as of Saturday, but don’t be caught of guard. This storm could still bring high winds and minor flooding to Massachusetts, especially the eastern part of the state.

Local News

Jack Wu joined the 22News Storm Team in July 2023. Follow Jack on X @the_jackwu and view his bio to see more of his work.