MISSISSIPPI (WDAM) - The term tropical cyclone pretty common for systems in the southern Pacific and Indian ocean but why has it been used in the Gulf for the past several days? Prior to forming into a tropical storm, Cindy had been called a Potential Tropical Cyclone.
This left some of you wondered why the National Hurricane Center was calling it such
According to Jason Beaman, Meteorologist in Charge at the National Weather Service in Mobile, AL, the reason for this is because of a new policy that went into effect this year at the National Hurricane Center.
"It's been the long-term weather service policy that we couldn't issue hurricane or tropical storm watches and warnings until a tropical cyclone had formed. And when we talk about tropical cyclone, we mean tropical depression, tropical storm. We've got to have a way to let the decision-makers and the public know that hey, this system that very close to land, can spin-up rapidly and be producing tropical storm to hurricane condition within thirty six hours", said Beaman.
That old policy has been had problem in the past when storms forms very close to land. Hurricane Humberto in 2007 is a prime example of this point. It formed very close to the Texas coast and intensified from a tropical depression to a category one hurricane in just under 18 hours.
This new rule fixes that problem by allowing forecasters to issue warning before the storm has actually formed. The storms though still have to be classified as something though. So why the name potential tropical cyclone?
"There is really no better name that we could come up with besides then Potential Tropical Cyclone," said Beaman. "Which all this is saying is that this is a system that is likely to become a tropical depression, tropical storm very shortly."