METEOROLOGIST JEFF HABY
The term “storm” has a variety of meanings. This writing goes over many of the common uses of this term in meteorology. The context that the
term is used is important to understanding what is being referenced.
Storm (in reference to a single convective thunderstorm)- This use is commonly given in reference to a thunderstorm that is producing
lightning and thunder. A single convective storm evolves as it moves and it can produce heavy rain, lightning/thunder, hail, strong
winds and/or a tornado.
Storm (in reference to a synoptic low pressure system)- This use of the term is sometimes termed “storm system” or “mid-latitude cyclone”. A
low pressure system can bring clouds, precipitation and windy conditions. This reference of storm is a large region of lifting from synoptic
process such as low level warm air advection, positive vorticity advection, fronts, jet streaks and the low pressure circulation.
Storm (in reference to a tropical storm or hurricane)- This use of the term is in reference to a tropical system than contains strong
wind and rain. Other terms that can be used for this type of storm depending on the intensity are tropical depression, cyclone, and
Storm (in reference to a group of storms with a common lifting mechanism)- This use of the term is in reference to groups of storm that
are merging or merged together that can contain strong wind, hail, high winds and/or tornadoes. Other terms that are used for this meaning
of storm depending on the characteristics of the storms include Mesoscale Convective Complex, derecho, mesoscale convective system,
and squall line.