Quick Question: There are so many Hurricane specific terms. What do they all mean?

Quick Question: There are so many Hurricane specific terms. What do they all mean?

Natural disasters bring about their own specific terminology. Although you may have heard some of these terms on the news and weather reports, you might not know what they actually mean. In recognition of Hurricane Preparedness Week, we've defined some of the most popular hurricane terms so that you know exactly what going on the next time you hear them. 


  • Think of it as flooding of what is normally dry land. It gets dangerous when severe storms bring strong winds and heavy rain. Those can produce really large waves, storm surges or raise the rivers…leaving an area flooded OR isolated because the adjacent areas are inundated.
Storm Surge 
  • Think of it as an abnormal rise in the sea level during a hurricane or storm. It gets dangerous when that rising water moves inland and causes life-threatening inundation. You should know that it’s not to be confused with “tsunami” (which is ANOTHER KIND of coastal inundation, but should not be used synonymously with storm surge).
Hurricane Watches & Warnings
  • Think of these as the announcements that tell you if hurricane-associated weather like tropical-storm-force winds, dangerously high water and waves, and other is anticipated to reach your area. A "watch" is a 48 hour warning telling you it is POSSIBLE. A "warning" is a 36 hour warning telling you it is EXPECTED. It gets dangerous when winds reach tropical storm force because preparedness efforts become more difficult.
Eyewall or Wall Cloud
  • Think of it as that ring of clouds surrounding the eye (or light-wind center) of a tropical cyclone. You should know that the terms "eyewall" and "wall cloud" are used synonymously.
Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale 
  • Think of it as the way to find out the hurricane’s category (you’re probably familiar with hearing things like “Cat 1, Cat 2, etc.”).You should know that this scale is based on the hurricane's intensity and examples of the level of damage you could expect (from “dangerous” to catastrophic”).


Have more questions about these hurricane terms or ones we didn't cover? No problem. Feel free to contact us directly, we've got you covered. 

If you have additional questions, send them our way!

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