Palms In The Storm
Image courtesy of Vlado /


Hurricanes are tropical cyclones with sustained winds of 74 miles per hour (65 knots) or greater in the North Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico and in the eastern North Pacific Ocean.

Areas affected by hurricanes include the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico. The southwestern part of the U.S. and the Pacific may experience heavy rain and flooding from hurricanes formed off Mexico.

The Atlantic hurricane season: from June to November (peak season from mid-August to late October).

The Eastern Pacific hurricane season: May 15 to November 30.

Hurricanes can cause catastrophic damage to coastlines and several hundred miles inland. They can also produce winds exceeding 155 miles per hour as well as tornadoes and mircrobursts. Additionally, hurricanes can create storm surges along the coast and cause extensive damage from heavy rainfall. Floods and flying debris from the excessive winds are often the deadly and destructive results of these weather events. Slow moving hurricanes traveling into mountainous regions tend to produce especially heavy rain. Excessive rain can trigger landslides or mud slides. Flash flooding can occur due to intense rainfall.

    What to do before

  • Build a safety kit and make a family communications plan.
  • Know whether your property sits on flood-proned land.
  • Make plans to secure your property: trim down trees, secure loose windows, garage doors and boats.
  • Bring outdoor furniture, decorations and garbage cans indoors.
  • Install a generator.
  • If in high-rise building, be prepared to take shelter on or below the 10th floor.
  • What to do during

  • Listen to the radio or functioning TV for information.
  • Secure your home: close shutters, secure outdoor objects or bring them indoors.
  • Turn off utilities if instructed to do so. Otherwise, turn the refrigerator thermostat to its coldest setting and keep its doors closed.
  • Turn off propane tanks.
  • Avoid using the phone except for emergencies.
  • Know how to keep food safe during and after an emergency.
  • Keep a supply of water on hand for sanitary purposes.
  • What to do after

  • Stay tuned for the latest updates on local radio news.
  • Remain on alert for extended rainfall and flooding after a hurricane ends.
  • If you have become separated from your family, use your family communications plan or contact the American Red Cross at 1-800-RED-CROSS/1-800-733-2767 or visit the American Red Cross Safe and Well site. (Contact the local American Red Cross chapter to help you find family, NOT the chapter in the disaster area).
  • If you have evacuated, return home only when officials say it is safe.
  • Drive only if necessary.
  • Keep away from loose and damaging power lines and report them immediately to the power company.
  • Inspect your home for damage.
  • Use battery-powered flashlights in the dark. Do NOT use candles. (Note: Turn on the flashlight outside before entering - the battery may produce a spark that could ignite leaking gas, if present).
  • Avoid drinking or preparing food with tap water until you are sure it’s not contaminated.
  • Use the telephone only for emergency calls
  • NEVER use a generator inside homes, garages, crawlspaces, sheds, or similar areas, even when using fans or opening doors and windows for ventilation. Deadly levels of carbon monoxide can quickly build up in these areas and can linger for hours, even after the generator has shut off.