Subtropical vs tropical: what's the difference? - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Subtropical vs tropical: what's the difference?

Subtropical systems are a mix of tropical and extratropical systems. Subtropical systems are a mix of tropical and extratropical systems.
SOUTH MISSISSIPPI (WLOX/AP) -

Tropical Wave 'Invest 98-L' became Subtropical Depression Five on Wednesday morning. And earlier this year, there was also Subtropical Storms Alberto and Debby.

But, what exactly are subtropical systems and how are different from tropical systems?

As far as overall impacts, there is little difference between a tropical system and a subtropical system: they both produce strong winds and heavy rain. It's mainly a technical change in the structure of the system. 

There are three different types of systems: tropical, subtropical, and extratropical. 

Extratropical systems are the big red 'L's that we are used to seeing on the weather map across the US every day. They are cold-core weather systems that can form over land or water. They typically have a cold front or warm front associated with them. Winds in an extratropical system can be less than 35 mph and can exceed 74 mph; their maximum winds can be located throughout a broad area away from their centers.

Tropical systems are warm-core weather systems that only form over water. They have no fronts associated with them but typically generate more rain than extratropical systems. Their strongest winds are located near their center, or sometimes, eye. Tropical systems have more enhanced thunderstorm activity concentrated immediately surrounding their center. And, given the right conditions, these tropical systems can quickly become strong hurricanes.

Subtropical systems are a cross between an extratropical and a tropical system, having characteristics of both. They can be warm- or cold- core. As long as a subtropical systems remains subtropical, it cannot become a hurricane. A few tropical facts: Subtropical Storm Ana is one of the earliest forming tropical or subtropical system in the Atlantic since a storm of the same name in April 2003. However, since 2000... Tropical Storms Alberto (5/18/12), Beryl (5/25/12), Arthur (5/30/08), Barry (5/30/07) and Subtropical Storm Andrea (5/6/07) also formed during the month of May.

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