By international agreement, tropical cyclone is the general term for all cyclone circulations originating over tropical waters, classified by form and intensity as follows:
Tropical disturbance: A moving area of thunder storms in the Tropics that maintains its identity for 24-hours or more. A common phenomenon in the tropics.
Tropical depression: Rotary circulation at surface highest constant wind speed 38 miles per hour (33 knots).
Tropical storm: Distinct rotary circulation, constant wind speed ranges 39-73 miles per hour (34-63 knots).
Hurricane: Pronounced rotary circulation, con stant wind speed of 74 miles per hours (64 knots) or more.
Small craft cautionary statements. When a tropical cyclone threatens a coastal area, small craft operators are advised to remain in port or not to venture into the open sea.
Gale Warnings may be issued when winds of 39- 54 miles an hour (34-47 knots) are expected. Storm Warnings may be issued when winds of 55- 73 miles an hour (48-63 knots) are expected. If a hurricane is expected to strike a coastal area, gale or storm warnings will not usually precede hurricane warnings.
A Hurricane Watch is issued for a coastal area when there is a threat of hurricane conditions within 24-36 hours.
A Hurricane Warning is issued when hurricane conditions are expected in a specified coastal area in 24 hours or less. Hurricane conditions include winds of 74 miles an hour (64 knots) and/or dangerously high tides and waves. Actions for protection of life and property should begin immediately when the warning is issued.
Flash Flood Watch means a flash flood is possible in the area; stay alert.
Flash Flood Warning means a flash flood is imminent; take immediate action.
Tornadoes spawned by hurricanes sometimes produce severe damage and casualties. If a tornado is reported in your area, a warning will be issued.