Do you know the difference between a Subtropical and Tropical Storm?

Tracking the Tropics

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – The 2019 Hurricane Season is officially underway with our first named storm of the season: Subtropical Andrea.

This is significant because the last five years in a row have all featured a named system before the official start of the season which is June 1st. 

Subtropical Storm Andrea has a lot of people asking what is the difference between subtropical and tropical named systems.  

There are three characteristics that define a system as being subtropical or tropical.  If a tropical system lacks any of these three characteristics, then it would be categized as subtropical. 

Tropical systems tend to have a warm core, due to the warmer waters the system forms over. The warm temperatures need to be found in the entire core from the water to the upper levels of the atmosphere. Subtropical systems can still form over warmer water, but the upper levels have cooler temperatures, therefore, causing a cold-core to form in the center of the system.  

A subtropical system has an asymmetrical structure to the storm, temperatures and dew points are not consistent around the entire storm. The eastern side of the system tends to have warmer temperatures, higher dew points and the most amount of moisture. This also tends to be where more thunderstorms are found. Tropical systems are completely symmetrical with temperatures and dew points around the entire storms. 

When you look at a tropical system, the thunderstorms are wrapped around the center of circulation. Subtropical system tends to look more disorganized with the thunderstorm activity far away from the center of the storm. 

When it comes to labeling a system subtropical or tropical, it does not change the potential effect the system could have on you. While the subtropical system tends to be weaker, they can still produce heavy rain and gusty winds.

The best line of defense is still to get ready for a hurricane now! Make sure your hurricane kit is all set up and make sure you and your family have a plan.

You can track this system and every storm by clicking on Storm Team 2 Hurricane Central.

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