Hurricanes vs Tropical Storms – What you need to know

During hurricane season, which runs from June 1 to November 30 every year, Bermudian residents know to keep a weather eye for tropical activity in the Atlantic, which could have an impact on the Island and on your home.


The best way to keep on top of the latest news on tropical activity is to listen to the radio, watch the evening news, check the internet or get updates from Bermuda Weather Service. As a storm approaches, ensuring that you understand the various terms and warnings associated with hurricanes and tropical storms will help.

While any type of storm can cause damage, tropical storms and hurricanes are particularly dangerous. They both fall under the term ‘tropical cyclone’, for their circular air movement over warm, tropical waters. The difference is based on wind speed. Below is a description of the types of storms and hurricanes

Maximum Sustained Winds

Tropical Depression

33 kts, 38 mph, 62 km/h or less

First appearance of low pressure and organised circulation in the centre of a group of thunderstorms over tropical waters.

Tropical Storm

34 to 63 kts
39 to 73 mph
63 to 118 km/h

Heavy rainfall and potentially damaging winds. Storm will be named and becomes more organised in a circular shape.

Category 1 Hurricane

64 to 82 kts
74 to 95 mph
119 to 153 km/h

Very dangerous winds that will produce some damage

Category 2 Hurricane

83 to 95 kts
96 to 110 mph
154 to 177 km/h

Extremely dangerous winds will cause extensive damage

Category 3 Hurricane

96 to 112 kts
111 to 129 mph
178 to 208 km/h

Major storm – devastating damage will occur

Category 4 Hurricane

113 to 136 kts
130 to 156 mph
209 to 251 km/h

Major storm – catastrophic damage will occur

Category 5 Hurricane

137 kts and more
157 mph and more
252 km/h and more

Major storm – catastrophic damage will occur


Before a Storm or Hurricane:

When tracking a storm, the Bermuda Weather Service will indicate its status -whether there is a threat, potential threat or if the threat has passed.

  • A storm is considered a ‘THREAT TO BERMUDA” when the effects are possible within 72 hours.
  • A ‘POTENTIAL THREAT’ means the centre of the system is expected to pass within 400 nautical miles (nm) in the next 72 hours.
  • NOT A THREAT AT THIS TIME’ refers to a storm that has the potential to affect Bermuda, but not within 72 hours, or it is forecast to pass by more than 400 nm within the next 72 hours.
  • A storm is considered to be ‘NO THREAT’ to the island when it has passed its closest point of approach and is steadily moving away.
  • It is also important to ensure that you have the right insurance coverage for your home, vehicles or boats. Read more tips from Argus on how to protect your home here. Ensuring that your insurance is up to date will give you peace of mind should the worst happen.

As the threat of a storm approaches, the Bermuda Weather Service will issue watches and warnings to alert residents.

  • A TROPICAL STORM WATCH is issued when tropical storm winds of 34 to 63 knots (kts) could possibly affect the island within 48 hours.
  • This is upgraded to a TROPICAL STORM WARNING when tropical storm winds are expected to affect Bermuda within 36 hours.
  • Similarly, a HURRICANE WATCH is issued when hurricane force winds may possibly impact the island within 48 hours.
  • This becomes a HURRICANE WARNING once sustained winds of 64 kts or more are expected to affect Bermuda within 36 hours.

During a storm or hurricane:

Once a storm watch or warning has been issued, and is within hours of its closest approach, it is recommended that you secure your house, property and vehicles based on the wind strength and direction details.

Based to the severity of the storm; remain inside and listen to local television, radio stations or the Government Emergency Broadcast Station on FM 100.1 for updates. You may also follow internet updates and advisories on, or

After the storm or hurricane has passed:

Following a storm, or hurricane, if you need to file a claim or speak to an insurance representative, you can contact the Argus Claims Hurricane Hotline at 298-0888 for immediate assistance. Claims can also be sent via email to

DISCLAIMER: The content in this article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional financial or investment advice.