The first tropical system of the season formed last week, Alberto. Something different you may have heard was that meteorologists were calling it a subtropical storm. What makes a system subtropical instead of tropical? It may be different from what you think.
The impacts of both types of tropical systems can be deadly. The winds can be just a strong and it can dump just as much rainfall as a tropical storm. The difference comes on how each system forms.
Tropical storms or systems form with warm waters alone. Because of this, there are warm temperatures from the surface into the upper levels. The strongest winds are close to the center. Upper-level winds do not play a factor in the formation of these systems.
On the other hand, a subtropical system forms with water waters in the gulf but also from upper-level winds moving outwards. Because the atmosphere wants to balance itself, the warm air then rises from the surface to the upper levels and will continue to fuel the storm. The winds are strongest away from the center. In this situation, there are warmer temperatures at the surface and cooler temperatures in the upper levels.
No matter if you are in the path of a tropical depression, storm, subtropical storm, or hurricane, they can all be deadly. According to the Weather Prediction Center, places along Alberto’s path received anywhere from 3-9 inches of rainfall and the system traveled so far north it impacted many areas in the Midwest.
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