National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce

Weather Safety - Hurricanes


TROPICAL STORM WATCH: Tropical storm conditions are possible in the specified area of the watch within 48 hours.

TROPICAL STORM WARNING: Tropical storm conditions are expected in the specified area of the warning within 36 hours.

HURRICANE WATCH: Hurricane conditions are possible in the specified area of the watch within 48 hours. During a hurricane watch, prepare to take immediate action to protect your family and property in case a hurricane warning is issued.

HURRICANE WARNING: Hurricane conditions are expected in the specified area of the warning within 36 hours. Complete all storm preparations and evacuate if directed by local officials.

SHORT TERM WATCHES AND WARNINGS: These provide detailed information on specific hurricane threats, such as tornadoes, floods, and high winds.

Before the hurricane season

  • Know the hurricane risks in your area.
  • Learn safe routes inland.
  • Learn location of official shelters.
  • Review needs and working condition of emergency equipment, such as flashlights, battery-powered radios, etc.
  • Ensure that enough non-perishable food and water supplies are on hand.
  • Obtain and store materials, such as plywood, necessary to properly secure your home.
  • Clear loose and clogged rain gutters and downspouts.
  • Keep trees and shrubbery trimmed.
  • Determine where to move your boat in an emergency.
  • Review your insurance policy.

During the storm

  When in a watch area...

  • Frequently listen to radio, TV, or NOAA Weather Radio for official bulletins of the storm's progress.
  • Fuel and service family vehicles.
  • Inspect and secure mobile home tie-downs.
  • Prepare to cover all window and door openings with shutters or other shielding materials.
  • Check batteries and stock up on canned food, first aid supplies, drinking water, and medications.
  • Prepare to bring inside lawn furniture and other loose, light-weight objects, such as garbage cans, garden tools, etc.
  • Have on hand an extra supply of cash.

    Plan to evacuate if you...

  • Live in a mobile home. They are unsafe in high winds, no matter how well-fastened to the ground.
  • Live on the coastline, an offshore island, or near a river or a flood plain.
  • Live in a high-rise. Hurricane winds are stronger at higher elevations.

  When in a warning area...

  • Closely monitor radio, TV, or NOAA Weather Radio for official bulletins.
  • Complete preparation activities, such as putting up storm shutters, storing loose objects, etc.
  • Follow instructions issued by local officials. Leave immediately if told to do so!
  • If evacuating, leave early (if possible, in daylight). Stay with friends or relatives, at a low-rise inland hotel/motel, or go to a predesignated public shelter outside a flood zone.
  • Leave mobile homes in any case.
  • Notify neighbors and a family member outside of the warned area of your evacuation plans.
  • Put food and water out for a pet if you cannot take it with you. Public health regulations do not allow pets in public shelters, nor do most hotels/motels allow them.

  If staying in a home...

  • Turn refrigerator to maximum cold and open only when necessary.
  • Turn off utilities if told to do so by authorities.
  • Turn off propane tanks.
  • Unplug small appliances.
  • Fill bathtub and large containers with water for sanitary purposes.

  If winds become strong...

  • Stay away from windows and doors, even if they are covered. Take refuge in a small interior room, closet, or hallway.
  • Close all interior doors. Secure and brace external doors.
  • If you are in a two-story house, go to an interior first-floor room, such as a bathroom or closet.
  • If you are in a multi-story building and away from water, go to the first or second floors and take refuge in the halls or other interior rooms away from windows.
  • Lie on the floor under a table or another sturdy object.

  Be alert for...

  • Tornadoes which often are spawned by hurricanes.
  • The calm "eye" of the storm. After the eye passes, the winds will change direction and quickly return to hurricane force.


  • CASH

REMINDER... If you are told to leave, do so immediately!

After the storm

  • Keep listening to radio, TV, or NOAA Weather Radio.
  • Wait until an area is declared safe before entering.
  • Roads may be closed for your protection. If you come upon a barricade or a flooded road, turn around and go another way!
  • Avoid weakened bridges and washed out roads. Do not drive into flooded areas.
  • Stay on firm ground. Moving water only 6 inches deep can sweep you off your feet. Standing water may be electrically charged from underground or downed power lines.
  • Check gas, water, and electrical lines and appliances for damage.
  • Do not drink or prepare food with tap water until you are certain it is not contaminated.
  • Avoid using candles and other open flames indoors. Use a flashlight to inspect for damage.
  • Use the telephone to report life-threatening emergencies only.
  • Be especially cautious if using a chainsaw to cut fallen trees.

Hurricane Tracking Chart