A hurricane is type of tropical cyclone, the generic
term for a low pressure system that generally forms
in the tropics. A cyclone is accompanied by thunderstorms,
and in the Northern Hemisphere, a counterclockwise circulation
of winds near the earth's surface. To assist you with
your hurricane planning, review the following information.
All Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coastal areas are subject
to hurricanes or tropical storms. Parts of the Southwest
United States and the Pacific Coast experience heavy
rains and floods each year from hurricanes spawned off
Mexico. The Atlantic hurricane season lasts from June
to November, with the peak season from mid-August to
These storms can cause catastrophic damage to coastlines
and several hundred miles inland with winds in excess
of 155 mph. Hurricanes and tropical storms can also
spawn tornadoes and microbursts, create storm surges
along the coast, and cause extensive damage from heavy
rainfall. Hurricanes are classified into five categories
(1-5) based on their wind speed, central pressure, and
damage potential. Category Three and higher hurricanes
are considered major; however, Category One and Two
are still extremely dangerous and require your utmost
Remember a key element of your planning should be the
collection of specific survival gear and critical hurricane
supplies. While preparing for a hurricane may be your
primary concern, preparation for other hazards should
also be considered in your emergency planning process.
yourself with these terms to help identify a hurricane
Winds - Are defined as one-minute average
wind measured at about 33 feet above the ground.
Depression - An organized system of clouds
and thunderstorms with a defined surface circulation
and maximum sustained winds of 38 MPH or less.
Storm - An organized system of strong
thunderstorms with a defined surface circulation
and maximum sustained winds of 39-72 mph.
- An intense tropical weather system of strong
thunderstorms with a well-defined surface
circulation and maximum sustained winds of
74 mph or greater.
Surge - A dome of water pushed onshore
by hurricane and tropical storm winds. Storm
surges can reach 25 feet high and be 50-100
Tide - A combination of storm surge and
the normal tide.
Storm Watch - Hurricane/tropical storm
conditions are possible in the specified area,
usually within 36 hours. Tune to NOAA Weather
Radio, commercial radio, or television for
Storm Warning - Hurricane/tropical storm
conditions are expected in the specified area,
usually within 24 hours.
Term Watches and Warnings - These warnings
provide detailed information about specific
hurricane threats, such as flash floods and
hurricane planning should address the following scenarios
and your hurricane supplies and kits should support
you during all potential scenarios.
a hurricane is likely in your area:
to radio and TV for information.
your home, close storm shutters, and secure outdoor
objects or bring them indoors.
off utilities (gas, water, electrical) at the main
valves/switches if instructed to do so. Otherwise
turn the refrigerator thermostat to its coldest setting
and keep doors closed.
off propane tanks.
using the phone except for serious emergencies.
your boat if time permits.
your Hurricane Kits.
a supply of water for sanitary purposes such as cleaning
and flushing toilets. Fill the bathtub and other large
containers with water.
should evacuate under the following conditions:
you are directed by local authorities to do so. Be
sure to follow their instructions and take your Survival
Kit(s) with you.
you live in a mobile home or temporary shelter - such
shelters are particularly hazardous during hurricanes
no matter how well fastened to the ground.
you live in a high-rise building - hurricane winds
are stronger at higher elevations.
you live on the coast, on a floodplain, near a river,
or on an inland waterway.
you feel you are in danger.