We hear about weather and climate all of the time. Most of us check the local weather forecast to plan our days. And climate change is certainly a topic in the news. There is, however, still a lot of confusion over the difference between the two.

Think about it this way: Climate is what you expect, weather is what you get.

Weather is what you see outside on any particular day. So, for example, it may be 75° degrees and sunny or it could be 20° degrees with heavy snow. That’s the weather.

Climate is the average of that weather. For example, you can expect snow in the Northeast in January or for it to be hot and humid in the Southeast in July. This is climate. The climate record also includes extreme values such as record high temperatures or record amounts of rainfall.

Tropical Storms.
Tropical Storms are areas of extreme low pressure. This means air is rising, causing ‘low pressure’ on the earth’s surface. The maximum sustained surface wind speed (using the U.S. 1-minute average) ranges from 34 knots (39 mph or 63 kph) to 63 knots (73 mph or 118 kph).

How are Tropical Storms named?
All tropical storms are given names so they can be identified and tracked as they move over oceans. In 1979, both women and men’s names were used. One name for each letter of the alphabet is selected, except for Q, U and Z. For Atlantic Ocean hurricanes, the names may be French, Spanish or English, since these are the major languages bordering the Atlantic Ocean where the storm occur.

The World Meteorological Organization uses six lists in rotation. If the tropical storm is particularly deadly or costly the name is retired and a new one is chosen.

Hunrankén Mayan god of fire, wind and storms

Hurricanes
Let´s begin by saying that the name comes from the Mayan language. “Hunrankén” in the Mayan mythology was the “one legged god” of fire, wind, and storms. He is depicted as a being with a snake’s tail and also reptilian in appearance, carrying a smoking object (possibly a torch) and a large crown. Its name means “hun-one; rankén-leg”

When a storm’s maximum sustained winds reach 74 mph, it is called a hurricane. The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale is a 1 to 5 rating, or category, based on a hurricane’s maximum sustained winds. The higher the category, the greater the hurricane’s potential for property damage.

Category

Sustained Winds

Types of Damage Due to Hurricane Winds

1

74-95 mph
64-82 kt
119-153 km/h

Dangerous winds will produce some damage: Well-constructed frame homes could have damage to roof, shingles, vinyl siding and gutters. Large branches of trees will snap and shallowly rooted trees may be toppled. Extensive damage to power lines and poles likely will result in power outages that could last a few to several days.

2

96-110 mph
83-95 kt
154-177 km/h

Extremely dangerous winds will cause extensive damage: Well-constructed frame homes could sustain major roof and siding damage. Many shallowly rooted trees will be snapped or uprooted and block numerous roads. Near-total power loss is expected with outages that could last from several days to weeks.

3
(major)

111-129 mph
96-112 kt
178-208 km/h

Devastating damage will occur: Well-built framed homes may incur major damage or removal of roof decking and gable ends. Many trees will be snapped or uprooted, blocking numerous roads. Electricity and water will be unavailable for several days to weeks after the storm passes.

4
(major)

130-156 mph
113-136 kt
209-251 km/h

Catastrophic damage will occur: Well-built framed homes can sustain severe damage with loss of most of the roof structure and/or some exterior walls. Most trees will be snapped or uprooted and power poles downed. Fallen trees and power poles will isolate residential areas. Power outages will last weeks to possibly months. Most of the area will be uninhabitable for weeks or months.

5
(major)

157 mph or higher
137 kt or higher
252 km/h or higher

Catastrophic damage will occur: A high percentage of framed homes will be destroyed, with total roof failure and wall collapse. Fallen trees and power poles will isolate residential areas. Power outages will last for weeks to possibly months. Most of the area will be uninhabitable for weeks or months.

Hurricanes originate in the Atlantic basin, which includes the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, and Gulf of Mexico, the eastern North Pacific Ocean, and, less frequently, the central North Pacific Ocean. A six-year rotating list of names, updated and maintained by the World Meteorological Organization, is used to identify these storms.

“Hurricane Season” begins on June 1 and ends on November 30, although hurricanes can, and have, occurred outside of this time frame. NOAA’s National Hurricane Center predicts and tracks these massive storm systems, which occur, on average, 12 times a year in the Atlantic basin.

As a world leader in hurricane research, NOAA strives to understand the mechanics of these complex storms in order to protect people, property, commerce, and natural resources.

In Mexico The National Meteorological Service (NMS) is the agency in charge of providing information on the weather at national and local levels in our country.

The National Meteorological Service depends on the National Water Commission (CONAGUA), which is part of the Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT).

The NMS objectives focus on the continuous monitoring of the atmosphere to identify meteorological phenomena that can affect different economic activities and above all cause the loss of human lives. The NMS also collects national climatological information.

  • Its main functions are:
    Keep the National Civil Protection System informed of weather conditions that may affect the population and its economic activities.

    Disseminate to the public bulletins and warnings of weather conditions, especially during the cyclone season, which runs from May to November.
  • Provide the public with weather and climate information.
  • To carry out climatological or meteorological studies.
  • Concentrate, review, purify and order the information, generating the National Bank of Climatological Data, for public consultation.
  • To carry out its objectives, the National Meteorological Service has a network of the following observation infrastructure
  •  Surface synoptic network, composed of 79 meteorological observatories, whose functions are the observation and transmission in real time of information on atmospheric conditions.

Altitude synoptic network. It consists of 16 radiosonde stations; whose function is to observe the upper layers of the atmosphere. Each station performs pressure, temperature, humidity, and wind measurements, employing a balloon probe that is raised twice a day.

Network of 13 meteorological radars distributed in the National Territory. This network began operating in 1993 and provides continuous information received at the National Meteorological Service, via satellite. The radars make it possible to detect the evolution of cloud systems. This makes it possible to know the intensity of precipitation (rain, hail or snow), the height and density of clouds and their movement, as well as wind speed and direction, within a maximum radius of 480 km around each radar. The current network of twelve radars covers almost the entire national territory.

Earth station receiving images from the GOES-8 weather satellite; With this station, images are received every 30 minutes from five different bands: one visible, three infrared and one water vapor band. Each image covers meteorological region number IV, which covers Mexico, Canada, United States, the Caribbean and Central America. Besides, every three hours, one infrared and one water vapor image are received covering the entire American continent.

The Yucatan Times
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