NASA Earth Observatory says "Katrina was a textbook tropical cyclone, with a compact, symmetrical wind field that whipped around a circular low-pressure center. Like most tropical cyclones, Katrina was a warm-core storm that drew its energy from the warm waters of the tropical Atlantic Ocean. Sandy had similar characteristics while it was blowing through the tropics. But as the storm moved northward, it merged with a weather system arriving from the west and started transitioning into an extratropical cyclone."
One of the big differences between the two types of storms is the size. Tropical systems are generally compact but powerful. Extratropical Cyclones are generally larger with weaker winds. Below are the wind maps from Sandy (top) and Katrina (bottom). The dark red color shows winds of 60 MPH or more.
NASA Earth Observatory says "For Katrina, winds over 65 kilometers per hour stretched about 500 kilometers (300 miles) from edge to edge. For Sandy, winds of that intensity stretched 1,500 kilometers (900 miles)."
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