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The Stages of a Hurricane

The Stages of a Hurricane

When it comes to the stages of a hurricane, those of us inland are not very knowledgeable in the workings and development and eventual dissipation of a hurricane. In order to better be prepared and well-educated when it comes to this particular subject, below is a brief description of the developmental process and qualifications that make up the storm.

Tropical Disturbance or Tropical Wave (First Stage) – Consisting of a mass of thunderstorms with slight wind circulations. Approximately 100 of these form each season. They lack a closed circulation, where there are winds in every direction.

Tropical Depression (Second Stage) – Tropical Disturbances or Waves develop into Tropical Depressions when winds reach more than 23 mph. Winds maintain 23-39 mph for sustained amount of time. An organized circulation of the wind will also be detectable in the center of the storm, though it is still very disorganized in general.

Tropical Storm (Third Stage) – Tropical Depressions develop into Tropical Storms once the maximum sustained winds have intensified to between 39 and 73 mph. The storm begins to look more like a hurricane with its circular shape. It is now given a name or title. Heavy rainfall is one of the biggest problems associated with a tropical storm but it is definitely capable of causing minimal damage.

Hurricane (Fourth Stage) – Tropical Storms become Hurricanes once the rotation of the “eye” is developed. Sustained winds now reach 74 mph or higher, and the damage caused by this storm-stage is significant, depending on its category and location. These storms continue to intensify.

After a hurricane begins to calm, it will be bumped back down in threat levels by title.

Category Qualifications

Based on the Saffir-Simpson Scale, developed in 1971 and still used today, using a measurement of the maximum sustained winds.

Tropical Depression – winds under 38 mph

Tropical Storm – winds 39-73 mph


Category 1 – winds 74-95 mph

Category 2 – winds 96-110 mph

Category 3 – winds 111-129 mph

Category 4 – winds 130-156 mph

Category 5 – winds over 157 mph

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