Hurricanes are large tropical storms that develop in the South Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico, and the Eastern Pacific Ocean. As a result, most hurricanes impact states located near the coast. These states include: Alabama, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, and Virginia.
A hurricane sometimes referred to as a typhoon, tropical storm or tropical cyclone, is a large storm with a low-pressure center that produces heavy rain and strong winds. Hurricanes develop over warm water and thrive in tropical regions, but lose their strength as the travel over land.
Hurricanes vary in size. Those with diameters of less the 300 miles are considered small, while those with diameters of 400-800 miles are considered average. Those with diameters of 1000 miles or more across are considered large.
While hurricanes produce most of their damage along the coastal regions, inland states can also be impacted by flooding caused by heavy rain.
They produce very strong winds and extremely heavy rain and along the coast they can produce heavy damage to populated areas due to high waves and intense storm surges (which can result in flooding). Tornadoes have been known to spawn from hurricanes as well.
The good news with hurricanes is that they can be predicted and tracked. Warnings are issued days and sometimes more than a week in advance of them reaching land.
There are two types of hurricane warnings issues by authorities:
A hurricane is possible in your area. Be prepared to evacuate. Monitor local radio and television for new, or listen to NOAA Weather Radio.
A hurricane is on its way to your area. Be prepared to evacuate immediately, if told to do so by authorities.
Hurricanes are also classified into 5 categories based on their ability to cause damage:
Hurricanes - Category 1
Category 1 hurricanes have sustained winds between 74 and 95 miles per hour and a storm surge of 4 to 5 feet. The damage caused by category 1 hurricanes is minimal and limited to unanchored mobile homes, signs and vegetation.
Hurricanes - Category 2
Category 2 hurricanes have sustained winds between 96 and 110 miles per hour and a storm surge of 6 to 8 feet. The damage caused by category 2 hurricanes is expected to be moderate with damage to all mobile homes and roofs. Flooding is expected.
Hurricanes - Category 3
Category 3 hurricanes are considered to be major and have sustained winds between 111 and 130 miles per hour and a storm surge of 9 to 12 feet. The damage caused by category 3 hurricanes is expected to be extensive with damage to some buildings. Low-lying roads will be cut off due to flooding.
Hurricanes - Category 4
Category 4 hurricanes are considered to be major and have sustained winds between 131 and 155 miles per hour and a storm surge of 13 to 18 feet. The damage caused by category 4 hurricanes is expected to be extreme with damage to all buildings. In addition, damage will include: destroyed roofs, destroyed mobile homes, cut off roads due to flooding and fallen debris, and flooded beach homes.
Hurricanes - Category 5
Category 5 hurricanes are considered to be major and have sustained winds greater than 155 miles per hour and a storm surge of more than 18 feet. The damage caused by category 5 hurricanes is expected to be catastrophic with most building being destroyed. In addition, damage will include: flooded homes, major roads cut off, and most vegetation destroyed.
Important Hurricane Preparedness Tips
- Make sure your emergency supplies are contained in a backpack. This way, you can take them with you should you need to evacuate
- Cover your home's windows with ply wood or hurricane shutters. High winds will break or shatter your windows resulting in damage to your home and possible injuries.
- Bring all of your outdoor furniture, decorations, garbage cans and anything else that is not tied down inside. This will prevent you from losing your property and prevent injuries from flying debris.
- Trim trees and shrubs on a regular basis. This will make them more resistant to the wind.
- If you home has shutters, close them.
- Turn off utilities as instructed by authorities.
- If your utilities can remain on, turn the refrigerator thermostat to its coldest setting and keep its doors closed. This will help preserve food should there be a power failure.
- Turn off propane tanks.
Preparing for a Hurricane
Being prepared for a hurricane or any other type of disaster requires preparation beforehand. There are three important steps you should complete in preparation for a hurricane. To make this even easier, Essential Packs provides you with a FREE online Emergency Preparedness Planning Guide that takes your step-by-step through the process:
Having the proper emergency preparedness kit, having a plan, and knowing what to do before a hurricane strikes, will greatly improve you and your family’s chances of being safe. Complete the 3-Step Emergency Preparedness Planning Guide today!
Get A Hurricane Preparedness Kit
Getting an Emergency Preparedness Kit for your home, office (or school), and car(s) is an essential first step in being prepared for a hurricane. Emergency Preparedness Kits from Essential Packs, provide you and your family with the emergency supplies your family needs to last for 3 days (72 hours). Deluxe Kits from Essential Packs are compliant with FEMA's guidelines and include important items like: emergency food and drinking water, flashlights, radios, first-aid supplies, sanitation supplies, emergency blankets, waterproof ponchos, and much more.
Get A Hurricane Preparedness Kit
Before it's too late...Residential • Office • School • Car
For additional help on selecting the right kit, visit Step 1 - Get A Kit of our Emergency Preparedness Planning Guide.
Make a Plan
In order to know what to do when a hurricane occurs, you need to create a Family Emergency Plan. Sit down with your family members and decide how you will get in contact with each other, where you will go, and what you will do in the event of a disaster or emergency.
To make this easy, Essential Packs provides you with a Family Emergency Planning Document that you can download for FREE. Simply open this PDF document and fill-in the blanks, then, print a copy for each family member, and store one copy in your Emergency Preparedness Kit.
You should update your Family Emergency Plan every six months, as phone number, work locations, and other important information could change.
For more help on creating a Family Emergency Plan, visit Step 2 - Make A Plan of our Emergency Preparedness Planning Guide.
The final step to getting prepared is to be informed about what to do before, during, and after a hurricane. FEMA's In-Depth Citizen's Guide to Disaster Preparedness helps you do this by providing you with comprehensive emergency preparedness information a variety of disasters.
Visit Step 3 - Be Informed of our Emergency Preparedness Planning Guide to download FEMA's comprehensive, 200 page book called, "Are You Ready? An In-Depth Guide to Citizen Preparedness".