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as of 3:00 p.m. E.T. July 30 2014

Be Smart. Know Your Hazard

Hurricanes have the power to cause widespread devastation, and can affect both coastal and inland areas. For more information, download the How to Prepare for a Hurricane guide, which provides the basics of hurricanes, explains how to protect yourself and your property, and details the steps to take now so that you can act quickly at a time when every second counts.

Hurricane Basics

  • WHAT: Hurricanes are massive storm systems that form over the water and move toward land. Threats from hurricanes include high winds, heavy rainfall, storm surge, coastal and inland flooding, rip currents, and tornadoes. These large storms are called typhoons in the North Pacific Ocean and cyclones in other parts of the world.
  • WHEN: The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 to November 30, with the peak occurring between mid-August and late October. The Eastern Pacific hurricane season begins May 15 and ends November 30.
  • WHERE: Each year, many parts of the United States experience heavy rains, strong winds, floods, and coastal storm surges from tropical storms and hurricanes. Affected areas include all Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coastal areas, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Hawaii, parts of the Southwest, the Pacific Coast, and the U.S. territories in the Pacific.

Know the Risk

Do you want to have a better understanding of the hurricane risk you and your community face? Below is a map of the United States and the frequency of hurricane and tropical storm activity by county. Atlantic data dates back to 1851, while Pacific data includes storms since 1949.

Map Information: This area is a map of the continental United States, Puerto Rico, Alaska, and Hawaii including state boundaries. It is entitled “Frequency of Hurricane and Tropical Storm Activity by County: 1851-2012”. It includes data from NOAA NHC HURDAT2 database; all classified hurricanes and tropical storms which made landfall within the 50 states, the District of Columbia,  or Puerto Rico; paths by county within a 125 mile band of the center point, based on longitude. Atlantic data from 1851-2012, Pacific data from 1949-2012.
Map Description: The frequency of hurricane and tropical storms are represented by a four point scale. The first group with the highest frequency of hurricanes and tropical storms includes between 65-141 occurrences of a hurricane or tropical storm. The area of states for this level of the scale includes the coastal edges of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, and Delaware, as well as all of Florida.  The second group with the second highest frequency of hurricanes and tropical storms includes between 29-64 occurrences of a hurricane or tropical storm. The area of states for this level includes inland portions of states in the first group, as well as Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Rhodes Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine, as well as all of Puerto Rico.  The third group with the lowest frequency of hurricanes and tropical storms includes between 1-29 occurrences of a hurricane or tropical storm. This area of states covers a large portion of the United States, and extends from Vermont in the east to southern California in the west, and from central Texas in the south to all of Michigan in the north, as well as Hawaii. The last group in the scale represents no occurrences of a hurricane or tropical storm. This area of states covers all of Alaska, Washington state, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, all of Utah excluding the southwestern tip, and parts of California, Nevada, New Mexico, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, and Wisconsin. In all about two-thirds of the US are within one of the first three frequency groups.
Federal Emergency Management Agency
ORR Mapping and Analysis Center, Washington, D.C., March 13, 2014. Sources: ESRI, USGS.

Additional Resources

For more information on protecting yourself from a hurricane and protecting your property and belongings, download these helpful resources:

  • Be Smart-Know Your Alerts and Warnings: The factsheet provides a brief summary of the various alerts and warnings available from Federal, state, local governments as well as the private sector that you can sign up for to stay informed and be ready to take action to be safe.
  • Be Smart-Protect Critical Documents and Valuables: The checklist helps you to take an inventory of your household documents (e.g., financial and medical records), contacts, and valuables.

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