Why Prepare?

Basic Preparedness
Getting Informed
Planning and Checklists
Special Needs
Disaster Supplies Kit

Natural Hazards
Thunderstorms and lightning
Winter storms and extreme cold
Extreme heat
Landslides and debris flow

Technological Hazards
Hazardous materials incidents
Household chemical emergencies
Nuclear power plant emergencies

Biological threats
Chemical threats
Nuclear blasts
Radiological dispersion device events

Recovering from Disaster
Health and safety guidelines
Returning home
Seeking disaster assistance
Coping with disaster
Helping others

A hurricane is a tropical cyclone, the generic term for a low pressure system that generally forms in the tropics. A typical cyclone is accompanied by thunderstorms and a counterclockwise (in the northern hemisphere) motion of winds near the surface of the earth.

All coastal areas in the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico locale are subject to hurricanes. Other parts, such as southwest United States and the Pacific Coast, experience heavy rains and floods from hurricanes spawned off Mexico. The Atlantic hurricane season peaks from mid-August to late October.
Winds from tropical storms can exceed 155 miles per hour. Hurricanes and tropical storms can also spawn tornadoes, create storm surges along the coast and cause extensive damage to coastlines and hundreds of miles inland from heavy rainfall.
Hurricanes are classified into five categories based on their wind speed, central pressure and damage potential.
Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale
Scale Sustained
Number Winds Damage Storm Surge
(Category) (MPH)

1 74-95 Minimal: Unanchored 4-5 feet
mobile homes,
vegetation and signs.

2 96-110 Moderate: All mobile
homes, roofs, small crafts 6-8 feet
and flooding.

3 111-130 Extensive: Small buildings
and low-lying roads cut off. 9-12 feet

4 131-155 Extreme: Roofs destroyed,
trees down, roads cut off and 13-18 feet
mobile homes destroyed.
Beach homes flooded.

5 More than Catastrophic: Most buildings Greater than
155 destroyed. Vegetation destroyed. 18
Major roads cut off. Homes flooded. feet

Floods are the deadly and destructive result of hurricane’s heavy rains. Excessive rain can trigger landslides or mud slides, especially in mountainous regions. Flash flooding on rivers and streams may persist for several days or more after the storm.

Naming the Hurricanes:
Since 1953 Atlantic tropical storms have been named from lists that were originated by the National Hurricane Center and now maintained by an international committee of the World Meteorological Organization. The lists featured only women’s names until 1979. After that, men’s and women’s names were alternated. Six lists are used in rotation. Thus, the 2001 lists will be used again in 2007.
The only time there is a change in the list is if a storm is so deadly or costly that the continued use of the name would be inappropriate for reasons of sensitivity. When this occurs, the name is stricken from the list and another name is selected to replace it.
Follow the link for the complete list of Storm Names as issued by the National Weather Service.

Know the Terms:

Familiarize yourself with these terms to help identify a hurricane hazard:
Tropical Depression: An organized system of clouds and thunderstorms with a defined surface circulation and maximum sustained winds of 38 MPH (33 knots) or less. Sustained winds are defined as one-minute average wind measured at about 33 ft (10 meters) above the surface.
Tropical Storm: An organized system of strong thunderstorms with a defined surface circulation and maximum sustained winds of 39–73 MPH (34–63 knots).
Hurricane: An intense tropical weather system of strong thunderstorms with a well-defined surface circulation and maximum sustained winds of 74 MPH (64 knots) or higher.
Storm Surge: A dome of water pushed onshore by hurricane and tropical storm winds. Storm surges can reach 25 feet high and be 50–1000 miles wide.
Storm Tide: A combination of storm surge and the normal tide (i.e., a 15-foot storm surge combined with a 2-foot normal high tide over the mean sea level created a 17-foot storm tide).
Hurricane/Tropical Storm Watch: Hurricane/tropical storm conditions are possible in the specified area, usually within 36 hours. Tune in to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio, or television for information.
Hurricane/Tropical Storm Warning: Hurricane/tropical storm conditions are expected in the specified area, usually within 24 hours.
Short Term Watches and Warnings: These warnings provide detailed information about specific hurricane threats, such as flash floods and tornadoes.

Take Protective Measures
What can I do Before a Hurricane?

Make plans to secure your property

Permanent storm shutters offer the best protection for windows

Install straps or additional clips to securely fasten your roof to the frame structure

Be sure trees and shrubs around your home are well trimmed

Clear loose and clogged rain gutters and downspouts

Determine how and where to secure your boat

Consider building a safe room

What do I do During a Hurricane?

If a hurricane is likely in your area, you should:

Listen to the radio or TV for information

Secure your home, close storm shutters and secure outdoor objects or bring them indoors

Turn off utilities if instructed to do so. Otherwise, turn the refrigerator thermostat to its coldest setting and keep its doors closed.

Turn off propane tanks

Avoid using the phone, except for serious emergencies

Moor your boat if time permits

Ensure a supply of water for sanitary purposes such as cleaning and flushing toilets

Fill the bathtub and other large containers with water
You should evacuate under the following conditions:
If you are directed to do so

If you live in a mobile home or temporary structure—such shelters are particularly hazardous during hurricanes no matter how well fastened to the ground

If you live in a high-rise building—hurricane winds are stronger at higher elevations

If you live on the coast, on a floodplain, near a river or on an inland waterway

If you feel you are in danger
If you are unable to evacuate, go to your wind-safe room. If you do not have one, follow these guidelines:
Stay indoors during the hurricane and away from windows and glass doors

Close all interior doors—secure and brace external doors

Keep curtains and blinds closed

Do not be fooled if there is a lull; it could be the eye of the storm

Take refuge in a small interior room, closet or hallway on the lowest level

Lie on the floor under a table or another sturdy object

What do I do After a Hurricane?

Follow the instructions for recovering from a disaster.