What Is A Tropical Depression? Hurricane Danny Has Thankfully Been Downgraded After Weakening Dramatically

ATLANTIC OCEAN - AUGUST 28: In this handout from the In this satellite image handout from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Tropical Storm Danny is seen August 28, 2009 in the Atlantic Ocean. According to reports, Danny danny has weakened, but a tropical storm watchis still in effect and it is still expected to produce dangerous surf and rip currents along the U.S. East Coast over the weekend. (Photo by NOAA via Getty Images)
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Good news: The hurricane expected to make landfall in the Caribbean this week is no longer a major threat. Former Hurricane Danny has been downgraded to a tropical depression. What is a "tropical depression," exactly? While they are more serious than your typical rainstorm, they tend to bring much less damage and chaos than the high winds of hurricanes.

As of 10:30 a.m. on Monday morning, AccuWeather radar placed Tropical Depression Danny at 45 miles southwest of Guadeloupe, an island in the southern Caribbean Sea. The storm's winds were recorded at around 30 miles per hour, with gusts hovering at 40 miles per hour. These figures are significantly lower than Friday's reading, which labeled the storm as a Category 3 hurricane. Hurricanes are generally rated on a 1 to 5 scale, and one of that strength can have winds as powerful as 115 miles per hour.

So what can we expect from a tropical depression? While we tend to colloquially treat tropical depressions and tropical storm as interchangeable, there's actually a clear difference between the two weather patterns. A tropical depression is the weakest type of storm, with a maximum wind strength of 39 miles per hour. Meanwhile, tropical storms produce winds between 39 and 73 miles per hour. Any coastal storm with winds higher than 73 miles per hour is classified as a hurricane.

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Although Danny is now much weaker, meteorologists are still warning residents to take it seriously. "[These] gusty winds could produce sporadic power outages with some damage possible to poorly built structures and weaker trees," said AccuWeather Meteorologist Evan Duffey.

The National Hurricane Center's Atlantic operations also issued its final advisory to Caribbean residents on Monday morning: "The remnants of Danny are expected to produce 2 to 4 inches of rain over the Leeward Islands, the U.S. and British Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic through Tuesday night." They added that the tropical depression is expected to dissipate in a couple of days. "There are no coastal watches or warnings in effect," and Danny now "lacks sufficient organized deep convection to qualify as a tropical cyclone [hurricane]."

While Caribbean nations may have been saved from a potentially catastrophic storm, they're not in the clear yet. Another tropical storm, labeled Erika, is currently strengthening in the eastern Caribbean. Meteorologists say that the storm could likely follow Danny's path.

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