National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce
Hurricane Preparedness Week
Sunday May 5 - Saturday May 11, 2024

Hurricanes are among nature's most powerful and destructive phenomena. On average, 14 tropical storms, of which 7 become hurricanes, and 3 of those becoming major hurricanes, form over the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, or the Gulf of Mexico during hurricane season (June 1 through November 30).


Hurricane Hazards

The major hazards associated with hurricanes are storm surge and storm tide, heavy rainfall and inland flooding, high winds, rip currents and tornadoes. Click each tab for more information.

Storm Surge and Storm Tide

Storm surge and large waves produced by hurricanes pose the greatest threat to life and property along the coast.

Storm Surge is an abnormal rise of water generated by a storm's winds. Storm surge can reach heights well over 20 feet and can span hundreds of miles of coastline.

Storm Tide is the water level rise during a storm due to the combination of storm surge and astronomical tide.

The destructive power of storm surge and large battering waves can result in the loss of life, buildings destroyed, beach and dune erosion and road and bridge damage along the coast. Storm surge can travel several miles inland. 




Heavy Rainfall and Inland Flooding

Tropical cyclones often produce widespread, torrential rains in excess of 6 inches, which may result in deadly and destructive floods. In fact, flooding is the major threat from tropical cyclones for people living inland.

Flash flooding, defined as a rapid rise in water levels, can occur quickly due to intense rainfall. Longer term flooding on rivers and streams can persist for several days after the storm. When approaching water on a roadway, always remember turn around, don't drown!

Rainfall amounts are not directly related to the strength of tropical cyclones but rather to the speed and size of the storm, as well as the geography of the area. Slower moving and larger storms produce more rainfall. In addition, mountainous terrain enhances rainfall from a tropical cyclone.

High Winds

Hurricane‐force winds, 74 mph or more, can destroy buildings and mobile homes. Debris, such as signs, roofing material, siding and small items left outside become flying missiles during hurricanes. Winds can stay above hurricane strength well inland.

Atlantic and Eastern Pacific hurricanes are classified into five categories according to the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale, which estimates potential property damage according to the hurricane's sustained wind speed.

Rip Currents

The strong winds of a tropical cyclone can cause dangerous waves that pose a significant hazard to mariners, coastal residents and visitors.

When the waves break along the coast, they can produce deadly rip currents - even at large distances from the storm.

Rip currents are channeled currents of water flowing away from shore, usually extending past the line of breaking waves, that can pull even the strongest swimmers away from shore.

In 2019, despite the fact that Hurricane Lorenzo was more than a 2,000 miles offshore, the storm resulted in long period swells and resultant dangerous rip currents that killed 7 people along the East Coast over a 4 day period.



Hurricanes and tropical storms can also produce tornadoes. These tornadoes most often occur in thunderstorms embedded in rain bands well away from the center of the hurricane; however, they can also occur near the eyewall. Usually, tornadoes produced by tropical cyclones are relatively weak and short-lived, but they still pose a significant threat.



Storm Surge Watches and Warnings


Tropical Storm Watches/Warnings


Hurricane Watches/Warnings

Daily Themes

Know Your Risk: Water & Wind

Prepare Before Hurricane Season

Understand Forecast Information

Get Moving When a Storm Threatens

Stay Protected During Storms

Use Caution After Storms

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