What is a tropical depression?


Quick Answer

Tropical depressions are relatively minor tropical cyclones. They are not as intense as tropic storms, which are not as intense as hurricanes. Over time, however, tropical depressions can become stronger storms.

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Full Answer

Tropical cyclones are low-pressure areas over the ocean. Over time, they can become more organized and more intense. Potential storms are referred to as tropical disturbances. Once they become more defined, they are classified as tropical depressions.

Tropical depressions have winds of less than 34 miles per hour. Above that speed, they are called tropical storms. They do not typically have the characteristic eye wall of more intense storms, but they can show some signs of rotation. Experts can generally predict which storms will intensify and which will dissipate.

Names are not given to tropical depressions, but some media outlets might give them a name prematurely. However, storms are given a name once they become tropical storms and those that degrade back to tropical depressions will keep their names. Tropical depressions are not as intense as some small storms that form on land or near land and they generally do not cause much damage from their winds. However, they are large and the sheer volume of rain they drop can cause a range of problems.

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