CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — When a watch or warning goes into effect it is important to know what the difference is and how a storm forms.
A watch means storm conditions are possible and it could reach your coastal area within 48 hours.
“So a watch is sorta like kinda giving you a sense that things might not be going well and maybe you should be evaluating your sense of awareness and getting ready what's going to happen if this gets bad,” National Weather Service Storm Surge Specialist Jamie Rhome said. “A warning means storm conditions are expected to move into your area within 36 hours.
“A warning is like if you had a direct line to the hurricane center and you just wanted to know how bad this is going to be and the other person on the other side of the line said this is really bad. Obviously, we cannot have phone calls with everybody in the country so the warning is our ability to say to everybody within a given area it’s going to be bad.”
A tropical storm has winds of 39 to 73 mph, while a hurricane has winds of 74 mph or greater.
Both have destructive winds and flooding.
Hurricane formation is a delicate balance between ocean and atmosphere.
First over the tropical waters unstable air rises and cools with height.
This leads to convection which is vertical motion and produces clouds.
At about 15,000 feet, continued thunderstorm activity occurs.
The wind speed must not change much with height.
Finally, the ocean temperature must be near 80 degrees or higher in order to supply enough energy to sustain a tropical storm.
Once a tropical process has started a tropical depression forms when organized clouds and thunderstorms have a circulation with sustained winds of less than 39 mph.
If the system continues to develop, a tropical storm forms with a closed circulation of organized strong thunderstorms with sustained winds of 39 to 73 mph.
Further development results in intense organized tropical thunderstorms with a very strong closed circulation and sustained winds of 74 mph or greater.
Hurricanes are ranked by category from one to five.
Category 1 is the weakest.
Winds can range between 74 to 95 mph.
With a Category 2 storm you can expect extreme winds and extensive damage.
A Cat 3 storm will have winds between 111 and 129 mph.
While with a Category 4 storm you are looking at catastrophic damage.
The worst of the storms is a Category 5.
Winds are more than 156 mph.
You are looking at a devastating situation.