National Weather Center Hurricane Facts

Hurricane Watches and Warnings

Hurricane Watches
A Hurricane Watch issued for your part of the coast indicates the possibility that you could experience hurricane conditions within 48 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.

Hurricane Warning
A Hurricane Warning issued for your part of the coast indicates that sustained winds of at least 74 mph are expected within 36 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.

Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale

Tropical Storm — winds 39-73 mph

Category 1 Hurricane — winds 74-95 mph (64-82 kt)
No real damage to buildings. Damage to unanchored mobile homes. Some damage to poorly constructed signs. Also, some coastal flooding and minor pier damage.

Category 2 Hurricane — winds 96-110 mph (83-95 kt)
Some damage to building roofs, doors and windows. Considerable damage to mobile homes. Flooding damages piers and small craft in unprotected moorings may break their moorings. Some trees blown down.

Category 3 Hurricane — winds 111-130 mph (96-113 kt)
Some structural damage to small residences and utility buildings. Large trees blown down. Mobile homes and poorly built signs destroyed. Flooding near the coast destroys smaller structures with larger structures damaged by floating debris. Terrain may be flooded well inland.

Category 4 Hurricane — winds 131-155 mph (114-135 kt)
More extensive curtain/wall failures with some complete roof structure failure on small residences. Major erosion of beach areas. Terrain may be flooded well inland.

Category 5 Hurricane — winds 156 mph and up (135+ kt)
Complete roof failure on many residences and industrial buildings. Some complete building failures with small utility buildings blown over or away. Flooding causes major damage to lower floors of all structures near the shoreline. Massive evacuation of residential areas may be required.