A hurricane is a storm system rotating around an area of low pressure which produces strong winds and heavy rain. Hurricanes produce winds of 74 miles per hour or higher. A hurricane forms in the southern Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico, and in the eastern Pacific Ocean. A typical cyclone is accompanied by thunderstorms, and in the Northern Hemisphere, a counterclockwise circulation of winds near the earth’s surface.
Hurricanes can cause catastrophic damage to coastlines and several hundred miles inland. Hurricanes can produce tornadoes and microbursts. Additionally, hurricanes can create storm surges along the coast and cause extensive damage from heavy rainfall. Be prepared - check out the Miami-Dade County Hurricane Guide.
All Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coastal areas are subject to hurricanes. Parts of the Southwest United States and the Pacific Coast also experience heavy rains and floods each year from hurricanes spawned off Mexico. The Atlantic hurricane season lasts from June 1 to November 30, with the peak season from mid-August to late October.
It only takes one storm to threaten, cause damage, and disrupt our lives. A hurricane will not occur without warning, so in the off-season it is important to be educated, develop a plan, and ensure that you are adequately prepared.
Before a Hurricane:
- Build or restock an emergency preparedness kit. Be sure to include key items like a flashlight, batteries, cash, and first aid supplies.
- Bring in items, such as outdoor furniture, that the wind can blow away.
- Close storm shutters.
- Have drinking water ready for use.
- Be sure to keep your primary vehicle in good working condition and keep the gas tank full. Stock it with emergency supplies and a fresh change of clothes.
- Plan how to communicate with family members if you lose power – even consider building an emergency communication plan.
- Turn off propane tanks and unplug small appliances.
During a Hurricane:
- Stay away from windows as flying glass from broken windows could be dangerous.
- If you are outside, move to higher ground and do not walk, swim or drive through floodwater.
- If power is lost, be sure to use a flashlight. Using candles can pose an unnecessary fire risk.
- Turn your refrigerator or freezer to its coldest setting and open it only when necessary. If you lose power, this could help preserve your food supplies.
- Watch or listen to a TV or radio for the latest weather updates or emergency instructions. Many city or county websites also often supply updates every 30 minutes or so.
After a Hurricane:
- Avoid walking or driving through floodwaters. Just six inches of moving water can knock you over and fast-moving water can sweep your vehicle away.
- Avoid any floodwater that may be electrically charged from underground or downed power lines. In addition, be extra vigilant as floodwater could be hiding dangerous debris and areas where the ground has washed away.
- Only return home when authorities indicate it is safe. Be sure to keep in touch with friends and family so they know that you are safe.