A Weather Map of a Hurricane

Glossary of Hurricane Terminology

While researching hurricanes you're going to come across unfamiliar words and acronyms. That's why we've created the below hurricane terminology glossary. It has everything you need to keep up with the conversation.

Many of the hurricane terms listed below are used in the United States of America. However, some of the below terms are used worldwide, and not just in the United States of America.

Using our hurricane glossary is simple, all the terms are in a list format, in alphabetical order. If you think we're missing anything in our glossary of hurricane terms, please contact us and let us know.


Hurricane Terms & Slang

  • Atlantic Hurricane Season - A period between June 1st and November 30th when hurricanes typically form in the Atlantic Ocean.
  • Clockwise - Movement that follows the same directional path as the hands on a clock.
  • Counterclockwise - Movement that follows the opposite directional path as the hands on a clock.
  • Direct Hit - This refers to a geographical location that will experience the strongest winds from a hurricane.
  • Hurricane - A tropical storm that has reached sustained winds of 74 mph (119 km/h) or greater.
  • Eye - The eye is the center of a hurricane.
  • Eyewall - The eye wall is the cumulonimbus clouds that surround the eye of a hurricane.
  • Hurricane Category - Hurricanes are rated by their wind speed using the Saffir-Simpson hurricane wind scale. A hurricane can be a category one to a category five, with five being the strongest types of hurricanes.
  • Hurricane Warning - An announcement by the National Hurricane Center that hurricane conditions are expected for a specific area.
  • Hurricane Watch - An announcement by the National Hurricane Center that hurricane conditions are possible for a specific area.
  • Indirect Hit - This refers to a geographical location that will not be directly hit by a hurricane, but will still feel the impact of hurricane strength winds.
  • Knot - A unit of speed that is the equivalent of one nautical mile. A knot is approximately 1.15078 mph.
  • Major Hurricane - A major hurricane is one that reaches category 3 or higher on the Saffir-Simpson hurricane wind scale.
  • Pacific Hurricane Season - A period between June 1st and November 30th when hurricanes typically form in the Central Pacific Basin.
  • Rapid Intensification - This refers to a hurricane that has had wind speeds increase by at least 34.5 mph (55.5 km/h) in a 24 hour period.
  • Storm Surge Warning - An announcement by the National Hurricane Center that life-threatening rising water is expected for a specific area.
  • Storm Surge Watch - An announcement by the National Hurricane Center that life-threatening rising water is possible for a specific area.