Terms you should know about storms in Florida
Eye – the low pressure center of a tropical storm or hurricane. This area is surrounded by the most intense area of the storm and at a huge contrast. Inside the eye, winds are calm and sometimes the sky clears.
Eye Wall – the ring of thunderstorms that surrounds a storm's eye. The heaviest rain, strongest winds and worst turbulence are normally in the eye wall.
Extra Tropical Cyclone – a storm that forms outside the tropics, sometimes as a tropical storm or hurricane. A "cold core" system.
Flash Flood Watch – means a flash flood is possible in the area. Stay alert.
Flash Flood Warning – a flash flood is imminent; take immediate action.
Gale Warnings – may be issued when winds of 39-54 miles an hour (34-47 knots) are expected.
Hail – rain in the form of pellets of ice sometimes produced by strong thunderstorms. It can be smaller than a pea or as large as a softball and very destructive to plants and crops. In a hailstorm, take cover immediately.
Hurricane – an intense low pressure system with winds rotating about the center in a counterclockwise direction at speeds of 74 miles per hour, or more. There are five categories of hurricanes, based on their intensity.
Hurricane Warning – a warning that sustained winds of 74 miles per hour, or higher, and/or dangerously high tides and waves are expected within 24 to 36 hours. If the storms path is unusual or erratic, a warning may be issued only a few hours before the beginning of storm conditions. Actions for the protection of life and property should begin immediately.
Hurricane Watch – an announcement for specific areas that hurricane conditions pose a threat to the area within 24 to 36 hours. Precautionary measures should be taken immediately.
Knot – a measure of speed. It is one nautical mile per hour. Never refer to "knots per hour" unless you want to describe acceleration. A nautical mile is one minute of one degree of longitude and is slightly longer than the ordinary, or statute, mile used in the United States. To convert nautical miles to miles or knots to miles per hour, multiply by 1.15. To convert miles to nautical miles or miles per hour to knots, divide by 1.15.
Lightning – an electrical discharge that results from the buildup of positive and negative charges within a thunderstorm. When the buildup becomes strong enough, lightning appears as a "bolt." This flash of light usually occurs within or between, the clouds and the ground. When a lightning bolt occurs, the air surrounding its channel is instantaneously heated to as much as 50,000° F, a temperature that is five times that of the sun.
Millibar – a metric measurement of air pressure.
North Atlantic Basin – refers to the Atlantic Ocean north of the equator, the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico.
Severe Thunderstorm Warning – issued when severe weather has been reported by spotters or indicated by radar. Warnings indicate imminent danger to life and property to those in the path of the storm.
Severe Thunderstorm Watch – indicates when and where severe thunderstorms are likely to occur. Watch the sky and check for weather reports and bulletins to know when warnings are issued.
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.
Storm Surge – the dome of water that builds up as a hurricane moves over water. This surge of water causes flooding when the storm comes ashore and is usually a hurricane’s biggest killer.
Storm Warnings – May be issued when winds of 55-73 miles per 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.
Subtropical Cyclone – a low pressure system that develops in subtropical waters (north of 20 north degrees latitude) and initially has non-tropical features but does have some element of a tropical cyclone's cloud structure (located close to the center rather than away from the center of circulation).
Thunder – the acoustic shock wave caused by the extreme heat generated by a lightning flash. The rapid heating and cooling of air near the lightning causes the sound of thunder. In short, the air literally explodes.
Tropical Cyclone – by international agreement, tropical cyclone is the general term for all cyclone circulations originating over tropical waters, classified by form and intensity. It is a low-pressure weather system in which the central core is warmer than the surrounding atmosphere. The term "tropical cyclone" is also used in the Indian Ocean and around the Coral Sea off northeastern Australia to describe storms called "hurricanes" and "typhoons" in other areas.
Tropical Depression – a small area of clouds that begins organizing and rotating counterclockwise with winds of 38 mph, or less.
Tropical Disturbance – a moving area of thunderstorms that maintains its identity for 24 hours, or more. A common phenomenon in the tropics. Usually, an area of showers and thunderstorms. No strong wind.
Tropical Storm – a low pressure system receives a name when it reaches a more developed stage of circulation and organization with winds between 39 and 73 miles per hour.
Tropical Storm Warning – a warning that tropical storm conditions, including possible sustained winds of 39 to 73 miles per hour are expected in a specific coastal region within the next 24 hours.
Tropical Storm Watch – an announcement for specific areas that tropical storm winds are a possible threat to coastal areas.
Tornado Warning – a tornado warning means that a tornado has actually been sighted. Seek shelter immediately! These are unpredictable storms that can quickly become destructive, even deadly, with winds up to 300 mph.
Tornado Watch – a tornado watch in a given area means that weather conditions are favorable for the possible development of tornadoes.
Tropical Wave – a kink, or bend in the normally straight flow of surface air in the tropics which forms a low pressure trough, or pressure boundary, and showers and thunderstorms. Can develop into a tropical cyclone. SECO has staff on hand 24-hours a day, 7-days a week, 365 days a year to take your call. Service technicians are on call to handle any emergency service needs whenever they arise.
To report an outage by phone, call 1-800-SECO-141 (1-800-732-6141) or your local SECO office and follow the prompts. To report an outage online go to SECO's Storm Center/report.
Page last updated: October 29, 2012