Hurricanes are severe tropical storms that form in the southern Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico and in the eastern Pacific Ocean. People who live in hurricane prone communities should know their vulnerability, and what actions should be taken to reduce the effects of these devastating storms. The information on this page can be used to save lives at work, home, while on the road, or on the water.
One of the most dramatic, damaging, and potentially deadly events that occur in this country is a hurricane.
Hurricanes are products of the tropical ocean and atmosphere. Powered by heat from the sea, they are steered erratically by the easterly trade winds and the temperate westerly winds, as well as by their own energy. As they move ashore, they bring with them a storm surge of ocean water along the coastline, high winds, tornadoes, torrential rains, and flooding.
Each year on average, ten tropical storms develop over the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, or Gulf of Mexico. About six of these typically strengthen enough to become hurricanes. Many of these remain over the ocean with little or no impact on the continental United States. However, about five hurricanes strike the United States coastline every three years. Of these five, two will be major hurricanes measuring a category 3 or higher (defined as having winds above 111 miles per hour) on the Saffir-Simpson Scale. These storms can end up costing our nation millions, if not billions, of dollars in damages.
During a hurricane, homes, businesses, public buildings, and infrastructure may be damaged or destroyed by many different storm hazards. Debris can break windows and doors, allowing high winds and rain inside the home. In extreme storms (such as Hurricanes Hugo, Andrew and Katrina), the force of the wind alone can cause tremendous devastation, as trees and power lines topple and weak elements of homes and buildings fail. Roads and bridges can be washed away and homes saturated by flooding. Destructive tornadoes can also be present well away from the storms center during landfall. Yet, storm surge alone poses the highest threat to life and destruction in many coastal areas throughout the United States and territories. And these threats are not limited to the coastline -- they can extend hundreds of miles inland,
Before a Hurricane
To prepare for a hurricane, you should take the following measures:
During a Hurricane
If a hurricane is likely in your area, you should:
You should evacuate under the following conditions:
If you are unable to evacuate, go to your safe room. If you do not have one, follow these guidelines:
All information above is from FEMA's website under disaster and emergency preparedness.
For more information and resources on Hurricane Preparedness, please visit the web sites below.
US Department of Homeland Security - FEMA
FEMA “Are you Ready?” Online Publication – An in-depth 204-page guide to emergency preparedness.
US National Weather Service - NOAA
US National Hurricane Center - Storm Watch
NOAA Hurricane Preparedness
American Red Cross
American Red Cross Hurricane Preparedness
American Red Cross Preparedness Checklists
Ready Gov - Hurricane Preparedness
CDC - Center For Disease Control and Prevention
CDC - Hurricane Preparedness
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