With winds of 74 mph or more, hurricanes are seasonal storms that develop over a large body of warm water. When reaching a land mass, they typically bring torrential rains, high waves, a storm surge, damaging winds and devastation. Lightning and tornadoes are also possible.
On average, 11 tropical storms develop each year over the Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Mexico or Caribbean Sea, five of which will strike the U.S. coastline, killing 50-100 people, according to the National Hurricane Center. Although a hurricane’s intensity, speed and direction is unpredictable, it can be easily tracked by weather experts, giving travelers and forest visitors advanced warning to prepare
The National Weather Service issues hurricane and tropical storm warnings and watches to indicate the severity of the weather event:
- A tropical storm watch is issued when tropical storm conditions with sustained winds from 39 to 73 mph are possible in your area within the next 48 hours.
- Tropical storm warnings are issued when tropical storm conditions are expected in your area in the next 36 hours.
- A hurricane watch is issued when hurricane conditions (sustained winds of 74 mph or greater) are possible in your area in the next 48 hours.
- Hurricane warnings are issued when hurricane conditions are expected in your area in 36 hours or less.
Visit the National Hurricane Center for hurricane advisories.
Keep these tips in mind in the event of a hurricane:
- Modify travel plans and avoid visiting an area that is predicted to be in the path of an approaching hurricane.
- Always notify family or an emergency contact about your travel plans before visiting a forest.
- Get to a safe, indoor location before a tropical storm or hurricane approaches your area.
- Find a clear spot away from buildings, trees, streetlights, power lines and other overhead objects, if caught outside during a tropical storm.
- Pull over to a clear location if you are in a vehicle. Stop and remain in your vehicle with your seatbelt fastened.
- Have a hurricane preparedness kit, especially if you live and travel in hurricane-prone areas.
- Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert and extra batteries for both.
For more information on how to prepare for a hurricane, visit the National Hurricane Center web site.
Remember: You are responsible for your safety and for the safety of those around you.