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People Locator

Basic Hurricane Safety Actions

Know if you live in an evacuation area. Know your home's vulnerability to storm surge, flooding and wind. Have a written plan based on this knowledge.

At the beginning of hurricane season (June 1), check your supplies, replace batteries and use food stocks on a rotating basis.

During hurricane season, monitor the tropics. Monitor NOAA Weather Radio.

If a storm threatens, heed the advice from local authorities. Evacuate if ordered.

Execute your family plan.

Watch vs Warning
Know the Difference

A HURRICANE WATCH issued for your part of the coast indicates the possibility that you could experience hurricane conditions within 36 hours. This watch should trigger your family's disaster plan, and protective measures should be initiated, especially those actions that require extra time such as securing a boat, leaving a barrier island, etc.

A HURRICANE WARNING issued for your part of the coast indicates that sustained winds of at least 74 mph are expected within 24 hours or less. Once this warning has been issued, your family should be in the process of completing protective actions and deciding the safest location to be during the storm.

Hurricane Photos from NOAA's Photo Library

Historic Weather Service Album - early satellite imagery, damage photos, graphics and more...

Hurricane Hunters in Action - Photos of the aircraft used in hurricane research.


















satellite image of a hurricane
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A hurricane is a severe tropical storm that forms in the North Atlantic Ocean, the Northeast Pacific Ocean east of the dateline, or the South Pacific Ocean east of 160E. Hurricanes need warm tropical oceans, moisture and light winds above them. If the right conditions last long enough, a hurricane can produce violent winds, incredible waves, torrential rains and floods. In other regions of the world, these types of storms have different names.

  • Typhoon — (the Northwest Pacific Ocean west of the dateline)
  • Severe Tropical Cyclone — (the Southwest Pacific Ocean west of 160E or Southeast Indian Ocean east of 90E)
  • Severe Cyclonic Storm — (the North Indian Ocean)
  • Tropical Cyclone — (the Southwest Indian Ocean)

Hurricanes rotate in a counterclockwise direction around an "eye." A tropical storm becomes a hurricane when winds reach 74 mph. There are on average six Atlantic hurricanes each year; over a three-year period, approximately five hurricanes strike the United States coastline from Texas to Maine. The Atlantic hurricane season begins June 1 and ends November 30. The East Pacific hurricane season runs from May 15 through November 30, with peak activity occurring during July through September. In a normal season, the East Pacific would expect 15 or 16 tropical storms. Nine of these would become hurricanes, of which four or five would be major hurricanes.

When hurricanes move onto land, the heavy rain, strong winds and heavy waves can damage buildings, trees and cars. The heavy waves are called a storm surge. Storm surge is very dangerous and a major reason why you MUST stay away from the ocean during a hurricane.

Hurricane Season 2005 Totals: 27 named storms, 15 hurricanes, 7 major hurricanes, 6 struck USA. [more]
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Hurricane Katrina Environmental Impacts
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NOAA Conducts Aerial Photography Missions over Regions Affected by Hurricane Wilma
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NOAA Performs Aerial Survey of Regions Affected by Hurricane Rita
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NOAA Hurricane Katrina Support Activities; Aerial Photography Flights Yield Thousands of Images
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NOAA Hurricane Hunter Pilot Captures Katrina at Her Meanest
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NOAA Satellite Images of Hurricane Season 2005 || Enhanced Imagery
NOAA National Hurricane Center - maintains a continuous watch on tropical cyclones over the Atlantic, Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico and the Eastern Pacific from May 15 through November 30.
NOAA Central Pacific Hurricane Center - issues tropical cyclone warnings, watches, advisories, discussions and statements for all tropical cyclones in the Central Pacific from 140 Degrees West Longitude to the International Dateline.
Naval Pacific Meteorology and Oceanography Center Joint Typhoon Warning Center - located at Naval Base Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, the Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC) is the U.S. Department of Defense agency responsible for issuing tropical cyclone warnings for the Pacific and Indian Oceans.
NOAA National Weather Service
Follow Tropical Storms and Hurricanes with ‘NOAA Storm Tracker’
NOAA Weather Radio
  NOAA Satellite Services Division — provides real-time access to satellite data and products for the public and government.
Satellite Images of Severe Storm Sectors - These are NOAA GOES satellite images pointed over event areas. These sectors change from time to time.
Satellite Images of Hurricane Regions - These images are from NOAA GOES satellites.
NOAA High Resolution Satellite Imagery (NOAA Environmental Visualization Lab)
NOAA Enhanced Satellite Imagery (NOAA Operational Significant Event Imagery)

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"Hurricane Basics" Brochure in PDF
"Hurricane Basics" (HTML)
Hurricane and Other Severe Weather Guides from NOAA's National Hurricane Center
Hurricane Awareness from NOAA's National Weather Service
Hurricanes...Unleashing Nature's Fury Hurricane safety and information from the American Red Cross, NOAA and FEMA (PDF Format)
American Red Cross — Hurricane Readiness Guide

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The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale — a 1-5 rating based on the hurricane's present intensity. This is used to give an estimate of the potential property damage and flooding expected along the coast from a hurricane landfall. Wind speed is the determining factor in the scale, as storm surge values are highly dependent on the slope of the continental shelf in the landfall region.
Storm Names
Daily color satellite images atlantic ocean storms — You can find links to satellite imagery for other regions of the world, such as the Eastern Pacific Ocean.
  Archived Satellite Images, Storm Animations and Special Events — You will find hundreds of selected satellite images capturing some of the more important weather and environmental events over the last 30 years.
 CoastWatch Products - These are NOAA GOES satellites images of various coastal sectors. You can see infrared (IR) or visual (VIS) versions of these images. Note that the visual images can only be seen during daylight hours.
 Hurricane Field Program 2005 — Observations will be collected in a variety of hurricanes at different stages in their life cycle—from formation and early organization to peak intensity and subsequent landfall or decay over the open ocean.
 Pronunciation of Western North Pacific and South China Sea Cyclones — The Hong Kong Observatory provides the pronunciations of these storms through the use of Real Audio.

Billion Dollar U.S. Weather Disasters (1980 - 2005)

NOAA's "Hurricane Hunter" Aircraft Fly Through Pacific Winter Storms and More — NOAA's "hurricane hunter" aircraft and their crews may be best known for their prowess in flying through and around nature's severest storms over the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico. However, these flying meteorological stations prove their mettle on the West Coast and over the Pacific Ocean as well—after hurricane season has ended and severe Pacific winter storms have begun.
Converting UTC or Zulu Time
Hurricane Tracking Models

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NOAA National Hurricane Center - maintains a continuous watch on tropical cyclones over the Atlantic, Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico and the Eastern Pacific from May 15 through November 30. The Center prepares and distributes hurricane watches and warnings for the general public, and also prepares and distributes marine and military advisories for other users. During the "off-season," the NOAA National Hurricane Center, in Miami, Fla., provides training for U.S. emergency managers and representatives from many other countries that are affected by tropical cyclones. The center also conducts applied research to evaluate and improve hurricane forecasting techniques, and is involved in public awareness programs.  
NOAA Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory - Its mission is to conduct a basic and applied research program in oceanography, tropical meteorology, atmospheric and oceanic chemistry, and acoustics. The program seeks to understand the physical characteristics and processes of the ocean and the atmosphere, both separately and as a coupled system. The lab is home to the NOAA Hurricane Research Division.
NOAA Hydrologic Information Centerflooding, river conditions
NOAA Weather Radio
NOAA National Weather Service Forecast Offices
NOAA Aircraft Operations Center (Home of NOAA's Hurricane Hunters) - The airplanes and helicopters of the Aircraft Operations Center are flown in support of NOAA's mission to promote global environmental assessment, prediction and stewardship of the Earth's environment. NOAA's aircraft operate throughout the United States and around the world; over open oceans, mountains, coastal wetlands and Arctic pack ice. These versatile aircraft provide scientists with airborne platforms necessary to collect the environmental and geographic data essential to their research.
Publication of the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), U.S. Department of Commerce.
Last Updated: February 8, 2006 11:44 AM
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