Hurricanes are among nature's most powerful and destructive phenomena. On
average, 12 tropical storms, 6 of which become hurricanes form over the
Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, or Gulf of Mexico during the hurricane season
which runs from June 1 to November 30 each year. In the Central Pacific
Ocean, an average of 3 tropical storms, 2 of which become hurricanes form or
move over the area during the hurricane season, which runs from June 1 to
November 30 each year. Guam, the Northern Marianas and Micronesia experience
typhoons all year round but the main season in July through November with a
peak from mid-August to mid-September. Over a typical 2-year period, the
U.S. coastline is struck by an average of 3 hurricanes, 1 of which is
classified as a major hurricane (winds of 111 mph or greater). By knowing
what actions to take before the
hurricane season begins, when a hurricane approaches,
and when the storm is in your area, as
well as what to do after a hurricane leaves your area, you can increase your chance of survival. If you, or someone you know,
have been a victim of a hurricane, please share your story, including the
town and state you were in and the year the event took place.. Please note
that NS will then have permission to use your story for educational
campaigns. Sharing this information may help save someone’s life in the
Read stories from survivors and learn how to stay safe.
While hurricanes pose the greatest threat to life and property, tropical
storms and depression also can be devastating. The primary hazards from
tropical cyclones (which include tropical depressions, tropical storms, and
hurricanes) are storm surge flooding, inland flooding from heavy rains,
destructive winds, tornadoes, and high surf and rip currents.
Storm surge is the abnormal rise of water generated by a storm's winds.
This hazard is historically the leading cause of hurricane related
deaths in the United States. Storm surge and large battering waves can
result in large loss of life and cause massive destruction along the
Storm surge can travel several miles inland, especially along bays,
rivers, and estuaries.
Flooding from heavy rains is the second leading cause of fatalities from
landfalling tropical cyclones. Widespread torrential rains associated
with these storms often cause flooding hundreds of miles inland. This
flooding can persist for several days after a storm has dissipated.
Winds from a hurricane can destroy buildings and manufactured homes.
Signs, roofing material, and other items left outside can become flying
missiles during hurricanes.
Tornadoes can accompany landfalling tropical cyclones. These tornadoes
typically occur in rain bands well away from the center of the storm.
Dangerous waves produced by a tropical cyclone's strong winds can pose a
significant hazard to coastal residents and mariners. These waves can
cause deadly rip currents, significant beach erosion, and damage to
structures along the coastline, even when the storm is more than a 1,000
Hurricane and Tropical Storm Watches, Warnings, Advisories and Outlooks
Whenever a tropical cyclone (a tropical depression, tropical storm, or
hurricane) or a subtropical storm has formed in the Atlantic or eastern
North Pacific, the NOAA National Hurricane Center (NHC) issues tropical
cyclone advisory products at least every 6 hours at 5 am, 11 am, 5
pm, and 11 pm EDT. Similarly, the Central Pacific Hurricane Center (CPHC)
issues tropical cyclone advisory products for the central North Pacific
at least every 6 hours at 5 am, 11 am, 5 pm, and 11 pm HST. When coastal tropical
storm or hurricane watches or warnings are in effect, the NHC and CPHC issue
Tropical Cyclone Public advisories every 3 hours. You can find these
for the Atlantic and eastern North Pacific or
www.weather.gov/cphc for the Central Pacific; on TV, radio, and cell phones; and
NOAA Weather Radio. Information on NWS tropical cyclone watch, warning, advisory, and outlook
products is detailed below. For more details on all NHC products, see
National Hurricane Center Product User's Guide.
Storm information and forecasts specific to your local area can be found
from you local Weather Forecast Office (WFO) through
What to Do Before the Tropical Storm or Hurricane
The best time to prepare for a hurricane is before hurricane season begins
on June 1. It is vital to understand your home's vulnerability to storm
surge, flooding, and wind. Here is your checklist of things to do BEFORE
hurricane seasons begins.
Know your zone: Do you live near the Gulf or
Atlantic Coasts? Find out if you live in a hurricane evacuation area by
contacting your local government/emergency management office or by
checking the evacuation site website.
Put Together an Emergency Kit: Put together
a basic emergency. Check emergency equipment, such as flashlights, generators and storm
Write or review your Family Emergency Plan: Before
an emergency happens, sit down with your family or close friends and
decide how you will get in contact with each other, where you will go,
and what you will do in an emergency. Keep a copy of this plan in your
emergency supplies kit or another safe place where you can access it in
the event of a disaster. Start at the Ready.Gov emergency plan webpage.
Review Your Insurance Policies: Review your
insurance policies to ensure that you have adequate coverage for your
home and personal property.
Actions to Take When a Tropical Storm or Hurricane Threatens
When a hurricane threatens your community, be prepared to evacuate if you
live in a storm surge risk area. Allow enough time to pack and inform
friends and family if you need to leave your home.
Secure your home: Cover all of your home's
windows. Permanent storm shutters offer the best protection for windows.
A second option is to board up windows with 5/8 inch exterior grade or
marine plywood, built to fit, and ready to install. Buy supplies before
the hurricane season rather than waiting for the pre-storm rush.
Follow instructions issued by local officials. Leave immediately if
If NOT ordered to evacuate:
Take refuge in a small interior room, closet, or hallway on the
lowest level during the storm. Put as many walls between you and
the outside as you can.
Stay away from windows, skylights, and glass doors.
If the eye of the storm passes over your area, there will be a
short period of calm, but at the other side of the eye, the wind
speed rapidly increases to hurricane force winds coming from the
If you evacuated, return home only when officials say
it is safe.
Once home, drive only if necessary and avoid flooded roads and
washed-out bridges. If you must go out, watch for fallen objects in the
road, downed electrical wires, and weakened walls, bridges, roads, and
sidewalks that might collapse.
Walk carefully around the outside of your home to check for loose power
lines, gas leaks, and structural damage.
Stay out of any building if you smell gas, if floodwaters remain around
the building, Â if the building or home was damaged by fire, or if
the authorities have not declared it safe.
Carbon monoxide poisoning is one of the leading causes of death after
storms in areas dealing with power outages. Never use a portable
generator inside your home or garage. Review generator safety.
Use battery-powered flashlights. Do NOT use candles. Turn on your
flashlight before entering a vacated building. The battery could produce
a spark that could ignite leaking gas, if present.